Antti Niemi has grabbed a hold of the starting job in San Jose and he’s helped the Sharks get back into the lead in the Pacific Division with his great play over the last month. After coming over from Chicago as a free agent after winning the Stanley Cup, Niemi has seized the role as the starter with Antero Niittymaki out with an injury.
Niemi is 23-15-3 this season with a 2.44 goal against average and a .919 save percentage with five shutouts. His play has been so good of late he was named the NHL’s second star for the month of February. The curious part of this signing, however, comes in comparison to the deal Detroit signed their starting goalie Jimmy Howard to just yesterday.
Howard signed for two more years with Detroit for $4.5 million. Both are outstanding goalies and both would’ve demanded a lot of money on the open market yet the cost for each of them is vastly different as Howard’s cap hit comes in at $2.25 million. Obviously there’s not a universal guide for drawing up a contract and both Doug Wilson and Wings GM Ken Holland do things differently, you just have to wonder whether Howard is annoyed with his agent right now or if Doug Wilson is peeved at Holland for showing him the road when he was already deep in talks with Niemi.
Still, for the Sharks after all the drama last offseason provided, getting goaltending squared away for the next four years is a good thing. One thing worth watching is how their payroll is handled next season. According to CapGeek, the Sharks have 14 players under contract next season at a cap hit of $51.825 million. With the salary cap slated to be around $61 or $62 million next year the Sharks wouldn’t likely be looking at any major acquisitions with just over $10 million to spend and at least six more roster spots to fill. It could be an adventurous offseason again for the Sharks next year.
‘If he was in Toronto, there’d be no Carey Price, media-wise’ – Boudreau on Dubnyk
While his 11-6-3 record won’t blow anyone’s mind, his 1.65 GAA and .946 save percentage are jaw-dropping. With Dubnyk doing special things, Bruce Boudreau felt the need to say weird things* after Dubnyk helped the Wild beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Wednesday.
“If he was in Toronto, there would be no Carey Price … I’m just saying media-wise,” Boudreau said after the game, as you can see in this video:
Even if Dubnyk was in a bigger market, there’d probably be room in our hockey thoughts for Dubnyk and the consensus best goalie in the world, but Boudreau’s larger point is taken: Dubnyk has been right there with the best early on this season.
And, let’s be honest, we shouldn’t be too hard on Boudreau or he might stop saying … well, things like this:
Boudreau: "I told the guys, 'It may not look it, but my insides are really happy right now.'" #mnwild
It’s difficult to tell just how big of a headache this might be, but SBNation‘s Mary Clarke uncovered quite the eyebrow-raiser on Wednesday: the Vegas Golden Knights’ trademark request was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
You can read the 164-page document here (if you’re weird), but the gist is that “registration of the applied-for mark is refused because of a likelihood of confusion with the mark” used by the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights.
Clarke summarized it simply enough:
Essentially, the logos and stylizations are too similar. It’s baffling the NHL and Vegas didn’t go through the trademark process before announcing the name and logo last month. Yet, all is not lost. Later down, the document states the Black Knight Sports and Entertainment group “may respond to the refusal by submitting evidence and arguments in support of registration.”
Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt received this release from the Vegas Golden Knights, which indicated that they will respond to the refusal (and also noted how teams like the Boston Bruins and UCLA Bruins share names without issues).
It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanento injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.
For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.
After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.
Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.
Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:
Capitals over the last three games:
Shootout loss to the Lightning
Overtime win against the Sabres
Overtime win tonight against the Bruins
Bruins over the last five games:
Shootout loss against Flyers
Shootout win against Hurricanes
Regulation win against Sabres
Overtime win against Panthers
Overtime loss to the Capitals
Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.
Matt Niskanen injured by Patrice Bergeron boarding hit
The Capitals consider Niskanen “probable” to return to Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins with what they’re calling an upper-body injury. Bergeron received a two-minute boarding penalty for the infraction.
(Check out video of the hit above.)
The Capitals’ Twitter acknowledged the brewing bad feelings.