Antti Niemi

How many more starts should Niemi get?


The San Jose Sharks have 16 games left in their schedule, including their Saturday night contest against the Phoenix Coyotes. As they fight for a playoff spot, one of the questions that they have to ask is how much they should lean on Antti Niemi. Should they give him the occasional game off to keep him rested in the hope that they’re still playing after April 7? Or should we be looking at the issue from an entirely different perspective? CSN’s Kevin Kurz thinks that the more often Niemi plays, the better he gets, and he’s not alone.

“I think we’ve proven that point again. In the phase where we had that real long travel trip and had the three back-to-backs, and he didn’t play as often,” Todd McLellan said. “[It] was probably his weakest point during the season.”

Contrast that with Niemi’s impressive 2.05 GAA and .929 save percentage over 34 straight starts during the second half of the 2010-11 campaign.

The San Jose Sharks have lost four straight games with Niemi between the pipes, but he has a 2.18 GAA and .920 save percentage over that span. The larger problem lately has been San Jose’s offense.

Thomas Greiss has been great this season, but sticking with Niemi might be their best bet moving forward.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?