San Jose Sharks netminder Antti Niemi is having one of the best seasons of his career, but the team has a lot less to show for his efforts than they should. Niemi’s goals-against average and save percentage are currently slightly better than his marks from the 2009-10 season, when he helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. For all of the great numbers Niemi has posted, he has an 11-6-5 record due to a lack of consistent offense from his teammates.
After a 7-0-0 start to the season the Sharks fell back to earth in a hurry, losing their next seven games. Seven of their losses have come by one goal, be it in regulation, overtime or the shootout. At the moment, the Sharks are barely hanging on to the final playoff spot int he conference but are about to embark on a tough stretch of their schedule. The Sharks will face the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks in three of their next four games and need to take a few points from them if they hope to stay in postseason contention.
Niemi allowed three goals in a win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, finishing the night with 34 saves. Saturday’s rematch with the Kings did not go as well, as Niemi was pulled after allowing four goals on 18 shots. It was only the third time this season he has allowed more than three goals (both other games were against the Blackhawks) in a game. Niemi has been a big part of the Sharks success this season, and has also taken a few blows when the team hasn’t delivered. It’s time for the Sharks to reward his play with support at both ends of the ice and a trip to the postseason.