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New Sheriff in Town
Which goalie should get the nod?
4/13/14 - By Paul Krill -

While everybody enjoyed Martin Havlat's natural hat track this past Friday vs. the Avalanche, I thought the real first star of the game was the guy in the net - Alex Stalock. Besides only letting in one no-chance-to-stop-that goal in the second period, Stalock kept the Sharks in the lead when P.J. Parenteau exited the penalty box and waltzed in all alone on Stalock, who shut him down. We also saw Stalock's adventurous skating and stick-handling that evening - it definitely was not Antti Niemi out there.

The game followed by two nights the Sharks' painful loss in Anaheim, when Stalock replaced Niemi in the second period after Niemi let in three goals on 19 shots. Then, two nights after Stalock's win over the Avalanche, Niemi returned to the nets and was respectable, letting in two goals on 32 shots against the Coyotes, who already knew they wouldn't be in the playoffs. Stalock sat despite his stellar play the previous outing.

I remember Stalock's first game as a Shark. It was the same evening as Patrick Marleau's 1,000th-game celebration, on February 1, 2011. Although not expected to play, Stalock found himself in the net anyway when Niemi faltered. Stalock came in, stopped all nine shots he faced and the Sharks ended up winning, 5-3 over the Coyotes. Shortly afterward, Stalock suffered a career-threatening sliced nerve in a minor league game. But he made his way back and became the Sharks backup netminder this year. He was 12-5-2 this season with a goals against average of 1.87. More than respectable.

Perhaps it's time the Sharks give Stalock some serious consideration for the #1 job. He has looked mostly great this season while Niemi has had his ups and downs. The thing that bugs me with Niemi is, while we often see the Sharks lose because the other team's goaltender stands on his head, so to speak, that just doesn't happen much with Niemi. He did that against the Rangers recently during the Sharks' 1-0 win in New York, but that's about it.

And, when sent to the Olympics as a goaltender for Team Finland, coaches for that team chose not to even play him. Obviously, Team Finland though it had a better chance to win with the other two goalies, Kari Lehtonen, of Dallas, and Tuukka Rask, of Boston. Niemi returned home with a bronze medal without breaking a sweat.

What the Sharks might want to think about is keeping Niemi on a short leash. Let him start the playoffs, but if things go south for the Sharks, get Stalock in their quickly.

…Penalty Shots…

Recently, my daughter and I went skating during the general skating session at Sharks Ice. Joining the crowd that day, skating with their own children, were Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle. How neat is that?…While on my evening walk right before the last game of the regular season the other night, it occurred to me that Joe Pavelski was only going to have this game alone to get his 40th goal, or else be stuck at 39. As we know, he ended the suspense early in the first period, reaching the 40-goal milestone, and then put the puck in the net again that period to finish the season with 41 goals. Congratulations, Joe…

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