Sharks' Niemi isn't sure if he'll start Game 1

by Apr 15, 6:32 PM

San Jose Sharks workhorse Antti Niemi isn't sure if he'll be starting in goal on Thursday, when the Sharks kick off their first round series against the Los Angeles Kings. Uncertainty aside, however, Niemi is approaching this year's postseason the way he'd approach it if he were San Jose's surefire starter.

"Either way, you've got to prepare yourself to be ready to play," Niemi told CSN's Kevin Kurz on Tuesday. "So, I do anything I would (normally do). Just like in the season. They don't always tell us early, but you just keep yourself ready and [prepare] on the ice like you were playing, even if you weren't."

The veteran Finnish keeper is eager to hear from coach Todd McLellan about the decision, and expects it to come down Wednesday. "I hope so. There have been times that the goalies texted each other the night before. Like, 'Did they tell you? They didn't tell me.'"

Niemi has started every Sharks playoff game since arriving in San Jose in the summer of 2010. While Niemi posted average save percentage numbers while holding down a much heavier workload, backup netminder Alex Stalock outperformed Niemi all season long. 

Niemi also struggled enormously in the past few weeks of the season, stopping fewer than .900 percent of the shots he faced in his last seven appearances.

Feature photo courtesy of Ed Szczepanski / USA TODAY Sports