No surprises: Niemi to start for San Jose in series opener

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After days of silence as to who’d be his starting goalie, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan did the expected on Thursday and announced Antti Niemi would be in net for Game 1 of San Jose’s opening around series against the Kings.

“He’s our go-to guy. Simple as that,” McLellan said, per the Mercury News. “He has been our go-to guy for four years, he’s our go-to guy in Game 1.

“I can tell you this, there wasn’t near the amount of debate with the four of us in the coaches’ room as there was with a whole bunch of you outside the coaches’ room. But it was fun.”

There had been some question as to which goalie — Niemi or Alex Stalock — would get the nod against L.A. Part of it had to do with McLellan playing coy with the media, but part of it also had to do with the fact Niemi’s been erratic this season while Stalock emerged as a quality No. 2.

There was also the fact that both goalies fared well against L.A. this year. Niemi played more, going 2-1-1 with a 2.67 GAA and .910 save percentage, but Stalock was really impressive in his lone outing, stopping 20 of 21 shots while being named second star in a 1-0 loss.

Of course, there is the experience factor. Niemi’s started every playoff game for San Jose over the last three seasons and has 56 games of playoff experience on his resume.

Stalock, meanwhile, has never played in the Stanley Cup playoffs.