The most immediate question surrounding the Sharks’ dramatic demise has been answered, as general manager Doug Wilson has voiced his support for head coach Todd McLellan and staff. Perhaps the next biggest pressing issue to be resolved is what to do about the team’s goaltending. Antti Niemi’s inconsistent regular season carried over into the playoffs, and while there is a long list of Sharks players to blame for the so-called reverse sweep by the Kings, the performance in net from the starting goaltender has to be near the top. “I felt like I had too many ups-and-downs,” Niemi said on Friday, as the Sharks cleaned out their lockers for the summer. “Of course you want to play better on a daily basis. I just feel like too many ups-and-downs, and I should be more consistent.” Niemi finished with a 3-3 record in the seven game series, with a 3.74 goals-against average and .884 save percentage. He won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, but his career playoff numbers (2.74 GAA, .907 SP in 62 games) are below average when compared to many of the league’s top goaltenders. Niemi was pulled in games four and five against the Kings, while Alex Stalock started and lost Game 6. In Game 7, Niemi played better than he had for most of the series, allowing three goals on 28 shots. A dormant Sharks offense only got one past Jonathan Quick, however. Stalock just completed his first full NHL season, finishing 12-5-2 with a 1.87 GAA and .932 SP in the regular season. He allowed four goals on 30 shots in the Game 6 loss, including a controversial marker by Justin Williams, but stopped all 26 shots he faced in a pair of relief appearances. “It was a good first full year in the league,” Stalock said. “Got some good learning experiences, got to play in some good situations, and obviously got a chance in playoffs.” At 26 years old, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Sharks to hand Stalock the starting job headed into 2014-15. Niemi has just one year remaining on his contract at $3.8 million, which would be a high price tag for a backup. Moving the 2013 Vezina Trophy finalist is a possibility, if the Sharks believe Stalock is their goaltender of the future.
Sharks have decision to make in net
CSN Bay Area | May 3