Antti Niemi isn’t exactly a well-regarded netminder in many quarters, Stanley Cup ring or not.
Has he been up to snuff as the San Jose Sharks’ starter, though? Let’s take a look.
After wrestling away the starting job during that Cup-winning season with Chicago in 2009-10, Niemi’s carried the mail in San Jose (aside from a slight tussle in 2010-11 with Antero Niittymaki in 2010-11).
2010-11: 60 games played, 35-18-6 record, .920 save percentage, 2.38 GAA and six shutouts.
2011-12: 68 GP, 34-22-9, .915 save percentage, 2.42 GAA and six shutouts.
His playoff numbers are mostly comparable, aside from an ugly first campaign with San Jose in 2011.
Compared to others
How do those numbers stack up to the rest of the league’s franchise guys, though? Habs Eyes on the Prize provided an interesting look at what one should expect from goalies and ranked Niemi’s 2011-12 in 11th place. Seems about right for what San Jose would want … perhaps.
Area of concern
The Sharks sported the league’s second worst PK unit last season and much can be traced to Niemi’s worrisome .838 save percentage shorthanded (down from .875 in 2010-11). In his defense, backup Thomas Greiss was a tough worse, though.
Overall, Niemi’s produced solid-if-unspectacular work in San Jose. The Sharks needs more than “solid” to truly contend, however.
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Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.