Even though Antti Niemi’s been San Jose’s starting netminder for the last 34 playoff games, Todd McLellan wouldn’t publicly commit to him for Thursday’s Game 1 versus Los Angeles.
McLellan still held off on naming his goalie for Game 1. Yes, a decision has been made, he said. No, he won’t disclose it.
We asked if the goalie knows at this point.
McLellan, shaking head: “You guys are going to run in there and interrogate him.”
Well, he could swear the goalie to secrecy, right?
McLellan: “Maybe we’ll double cross you too. Who knows.”
Part of this could be gamesmanship. The Sharks are going up a very familiar rival in Los Angeles — the Pacific Division foes played each other five times this year — and McLellan did give backup Alex Stalock one of those games, a 1-0 loss in January in which Stalock stopped 20 of 21 shots and was named second star.
Overall, Stalock had a pretty solid year. He went 12-5-2 with a 1.87 GAA and .932 save percentage, with a pair of shutouts. But it’s really surprising to think McLellan would go with him over Niemi — even though the veteran Finn struggled at times this year. Niemi still managed to fare well against Los Angeles (2-1-1, 2.67 GAA, .910 save percentage) and has 56 games of playoff experience to Stalock’s zero.