I’ve been quite critical of Antti Niemi during his tenure as a Shark but with good reason – he just wasn’t getting the job done nor meeting expectations. Last night, I must say, he did very well in earning his first shutout as a Shark stopping 28 shots in the 4-0 victory. Niemi looked poised,confident, and efficient in net.
It was obvious that the game against Chicago last week meant a lot to Niemi and his teammates understood that – they battled for their net-minder much like they did for Niittymaki against Tampa Bay earlier in the season. So for Dany Heatley’s well-covered return to Ottawa, Antti Niemi came to play for his teammate the way they had played for him – I think this says a lot about him and the Sharks coming together as a team.
In addition to Niemi’s performance, Ryan Clowe bought 15 Dany-Heatley-Sharks-jerseys for 15 of his buddies he flew in from Newfoundland to sit in the stands amongst the ‘Heater Haters’. He also added two assists in the game, you know, for good measure.
The consistency and the depth of their defense may not be there, but this team is building something together in the early goings of the season that will pay dividends down the stretch.
Tomorrow’s day game against the Canadiens will certainly be a difficult test for the team but it can’t just be about bringing out their best because it’s <insert player’s name> former team or hometown – they need to harness that motivation for strings of games in order to establish that much-needed consistency.
I will be a guest after the game on Habs Chat Radio to recap the game and talk some puck.
About the Author
Written by Alex Wasserstrom
Native Californian, former minor league pro, and current men's league superstar, Alex Wasserstrom is ProSportsBlogging.com's San Jose Sharks correspondent. Wanna talk puck? Shoot him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow him on Twitter (@Awassers).