First of all, I have to say I'm a huge fan of the new deal DW gave to Niemi as with the way he's performed this year (and especially of late) this signing seems to be in the category of a steal. Also, before I bring up any of my other points, I think it's common knowledge that Niemi has really hit his stride right now. But, I have two points I want to make: 1) With all the games Niemi is playing, is McClellan inadvertantly setting us up for another dissappointing postseason? and 2) How does the new Niemi deal affect Alex Stalock, who was assumed to take over the job in the future?
In all my years of being a Sharks fan (which is only 12 even though I made it just sound significantly longer), I can't remember a year our number one goalie (which was usually Nabokov) didn't play a vast majority of the games; which usually ended with him finishing with about 70 games played. Then, when playoffs rolled around and we were a top seed, the fatigue of not having enough off time showed up. I doubt I need to remind everyone of our Ducks incident in the first round a few years back. In that series, Nabokov looked pretty bad to me. Granted, the Sharks weren't scoring, but Nabokov certainly didn't help the cause. In all the years the Sharks have been in the playoffs, top seed or not, the farthest they've gone, as we all know, is to the Western Conference Finals. Not once in all their 20 years did they reach the Cup. Is having one goalie start a vast majority of the games contributing to that? I think so.
The Relevance of my last point to Niemi is this: I read on my recap of the Detroit game that Niemi has started 20 CONSECUTIVE GAMES!!!!! I know some of this has to deal with the way the team's playing, Nitty being hurt, and the inexperience of Carter Hutton. But, 20 games!?!?!?!?! That's insanity. I don't care how hot you are, everyone needs a break at some point. I just don't want our team's postseason play to suffer due to the fact that Niemi's playing too many games now.
The second point I wanted to make concerns the guy I've personally taken a strong liking to, my boy, Alex Stalock. Since about 2008, I've been rooting for him to be the next great Sharks goalie to provide us long-term with stability and great play. Granted, the stability part may be questioned by some at this juncture because of his injury that has left him out for the remainder of this year. However, the fact remains that he is the best goalie in our minor league system and has been regarded by scouts to have an excellent NHL career. My question is would the Niemi deal block this from happening for Stalock? Niemi's been great this year but I believe Stalock's the future. If you remember, and I know it was only one game, he played great in relief when the Sharks had that comeback win against Pheonix that got them on this really hot streak. So, I'm just wondering what would happen along that avenue. I am happy to have Niemi, though.