There are a few basic schools of thought regarding the San Jose Sharks’ signing of Antti Niemi, but ultimately I think you could group fan and writer reactions into two sides. On one side, people who especially believe in Thomas Greiss might think that the Sharks’ are guilty of goalie overkill. That being said, others would argue that neither Greiss nor new addition Antero Niittymaki have proven they can carry a heavy workload on a true NHL contender.
(For the record, I think that the Sharks were wise to hedge their bets in net, although their thinner defensive corps will make it more difficult for whomever starts in goal.)
If this summer taught us anything, it’s that there might be more qualified workers than there are jobs in the field of NHL netminding. So you have to wonder about the emotional impact of Niemi’s signing on Niittymaki and Greiss. Great beat writer David Pollak caught up with both goalies and found that they have very different, yet equally justifiable reactions.
Is Niittymaki devastated that he won’t get a surefire shot to be the No. 1 goalie on a true elite NHL team after years of being the top guy on bad squads or fighting through platoon situations on decent teams? Well, if he’s devastated, he certainly submerged that emotion in positive PR speak.
“It’s part of the business,” Niittymaki said when I reached him this afternoon. “It’s not a huge deal or anything. . . . Our goal here is to win a Stanley Cup. I think everybody knows that. They have to do what they feel like they need to do. I don’t have a problem with it.”
Conversely, Greiss did not shield his disappointment. Of course, Niittymaki has more justification for positivity; his demotion means he’ll probably be in a “1a/1b” situation with Niemi while Greiss likely be shuttled down to the AHL or a different NHL team. Here is what Griess said to Pollak.
“I was hoping to make the next step,” he said. “It’s understandable they’re bringing in a Stanley Cup goalie, the first time they have that in the organization. At this point I understand that. From the other side, I want to play as much as I can.”
Has it reached the point where he thinks his best opportunity might come in another organization?
“I talked with Doug about it,” Greiss said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Well, look on the bright side, Greiss; at least you can be the starter for the German Olympic team …
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.