How many more starts should Niemi get?

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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.