While the San Jose Sharks hold a 3-2 series lead on Los Angeles, there are some problems with the Sharks and they all start in goal. Antti Niemi has had some problems so far in the playoffs as the supposedly offensively challenged Kings have been able to jump on Niemi for a lot of goals. Through five games, Niemi is sporting a robust in all the wrong way goals against average of 4.30 while rolling with just a .855 save percentage.
In Game 5, Niemi lasted just 8:42 after giving up three goals on four shots. In Game 3 that saw the Sharks storm back from being down 4-0, Niemi was chased early in the second period after giving up four goals on ten shots. The Sharks have been winning games in spite of Niemi and not because of him. With Antero Niittymaki backing him questions have come up as to whether coach Todd McLellan should make a change in goal. McLellan is instead sticking with the guy that got the Sharks to the playoffs and Niemi will start Game 6 tomorrow night.
Even though Niemi’s numbers are poor so far, the Sharks are still playing well enough in front of him to hold the lead in the series. The Blackhawks were able to win the Stanley Cup last season often in spite of Niemi and there’s no reason to rock the boat yet in San Jose. If Niemi gets spanked around and the Kings force a Game 7, it puts McLellan in a tough spot because that means Niemi will have given the Sharks nothing in half the games played. In a series that’s been somewhat lacking on storylines, this provides us something to keep our eyes on tomorrow night.