Antti Niemi still confident after shaky performance

Niemi6.jpgAntti Niemi had just as shaky a game as Michael Leighton did in the
first two periods of last night’s game, with one subtle difference: he
stayed in the game and made the big saves when his team needed them the

It’s also interesting to see how one team pulls their
goaltender after five goals allowed, while the other team sticks with
theirs. With how Niemi has played consistently in the postseason there’s
no doubting that Joel Quenneville has more faith in his goaltender,
while Laviolette is quick to turn back to his veteran if Leighton

Sticking with Niemi proved to be the right choice, even
if the only other alternative was Cristobal Huet, as he buckled down and
gave his team the saves they needed to get the win. He only made six
saves in the third period, but each one gave his teammates more and more
confidence in their goalie.

Says Patrick Sharp: “That’s what the
great thing about Antti is. It doesn’t matter how many
he lets in, he’s always going to make that next save. I thought when it
was a tie game and we got the lead there, he played his best hockey.
Very sharp toward the end.”

It’s amazing to think of how far Niemi
has come this season, when the weakest part of a great Blackhawks team
was in net. He is now one heck of a confident goaltender, and he’s not
going to let two bad periods get him off his game moving forward.

felt Grade A, pretty good at first. Of course, giving up five goals
is not good for your focus,” Niemi said. “I can’t get too negative about
the goals and started thinking about those too much.”

He was
arguably the most important player for the Blackhawks against the
Sharks, and he’s going to have to play much, much better for the rest of
the series if he hopes to be hoisting the Stanley Cup. Still, the saves
that he made in the third period are enough to give himself and his
team the confidence they need to not worry about the goaltending game
after game.

It’s this confidence that kept Quenneville from
pulling Niemi, after he allowed five goals in the first two periods and
letting the Flyers tie the game twice i the second period.

“I wasn’t looking at the goalie to make that change,” Quenneville said.
“I thought he gave
us a chance, and I thought he did what he had to do, particularly in the

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    Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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    The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

    Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

    Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

    The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

    Here are the full rosters:


    NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

    The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).

    Goalie nods: Andersen’s ‘flu-like symptoms’ mean Khudobin starts versus Flames

    Anton Khudobin, Frederik Andersen
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    With Frederik Andersen experiencing “flu-like symptoms” (PHT diagnosis: it might be the flu), the Anaheim Ducks will turn to backup Anton Khudobin for tonight’s home game versus Calgary.

    Khudobin could, in turn, be backed up by Josh Gibson, recalled today from AHL San Diego. The Ducks have officially listed Andersen as “questionable.”

    Khudobin (3-3-0, .917) has not started a game in over a week. His last action came exactly a week ago, after Andersen got the hook versus Nashville.

    Andersen may or may not travel with the Ducks for tomorrow’s game at Arizona.

    The Ducks, of course, are coming off a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay, a result that produced the following quote from Ryan Kesler:

    After a four-game winning streak to start November, Anaheim has since dropped five of its last seven.

    Karri Ramo will be in net for the Flames. After a terrible start to the season, he’s been much better lately, allowing just eight goals combined in his last four starts.


    Craig Anderson for the Senators. Antti Niemi for the Stars.

    Torts: Jackets still need more ‘bite’

    John Tortorella

    The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.

    The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.

    Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.

    “A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”

    The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.


    — The Canucks need ‘more bite’

    The Rangers are better when they have ‘more bite’

    Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer


    The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.

    Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.

    The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.

    According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.

    “He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”

    In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.

    Related: Where’s the depth in San Jose?