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Al Stalock out for the rest of the season

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In the third period of last night's game against the Manchester Monarchs, Dwight King stepped on Stalock and sent him down to the ice. Play had to be halted, and Stalock was helped off. The plan was to have Stalock come up to San Jose for today's game against the Boston Bruins, serving as a backup for Antti Niemi before the injury.

Now the plan for Stalock consists of surgery, rehabilitation, and a long process of getting back into playing shape.

How will they survive without Alex Stalock?

It is a reality they began dealing with last night as Stalock listened to the game from a hospital bed one night after suffering a season-ending injury to the back of his left knee. With about 3 1/2 minutes to go in the third period of last night’s game here against Manchester, Stalock was stepped on by Monarchs forward Dwight King.

The diagnosis, according to the second-year goaltender, is a sliced nerve behind the knee. It will require surgery to repair, and Stalock is done for the season, although he anticipates being back for next year.

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It's an unfortunate setback for a promising young goaltender, one who hasn't had a major injury yet in his career. The Sharks are hoping that the surgery goes well and Stalock can overcome the obstacles a knee injury poses for a goaltender who relies on his reflexes to make saves. As Stalock told Fear The Fin, that is a big part of his game.

"There's two different breeds of goalies, guys that rely on reflexes and a lot guys that rely more so on blocking and percentages," Stalock said. "For me, I like to rely on my athletic ability and natural reflexes to make saves along with my competiveness. Those all combine into the style of game I like to play."

With Antero Niittymaki injured, San Jose is left without a proven backup for the near future. Carter Hutton (AHL) dressed today for the Sharks, and J.P. Anderson (OHL) also has seen some limited time in San Jose. Another option is Tyson Sexsmith, who is currently playing in the ECHL with the Stockton Thunder.

But wherever the Sharks turn, it's unfortunate that their goaltender of the future won't be getting any more NHL time this season. Getting acclimated to the pace and speed of the NHL game, even in limited starts, is a boon to the development of any prospect. The time spent up with the big club in the midst of Niittymaki's injury would have served Stalock well.

Here's to a successful offseason of rehabilitation that can get him back to where he was two days ago.