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Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

Blackhawks' historian unveils happy mystery of Niemi

By Bob Verdi - Chicago Blackhawks Historian

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Blackhawks' historian unveils happy mystery of Niemi
SAN JOSE -- The Blackhawks unknown soldier between the pipes, Antti Niemi, went from Pelicans Lahti in Finland to the Rockford (Illinois) IceHogs to No. 1 in Chicago, earns only $827,000 for manning what arguably is the most important position in sports, yet is so green he might as well be a vegetable.

"What did Niemi play, six games before Christmas?" mentioned Eddie Olczyk, star of NBC/Comcast/Versus/Channel 9/talk radio/summer hockey schools. "I mean, who knew that he would do what he's been doing?"

Now, 13 games into the post-season marathon, authorities have launched an investigation into identifying the coolest rookie goalkeeper since Ken Dryden entrusted to lead his team to a Stanley Cup while registering the pulse rate of a toll collector; Antti Niemi is a person of interest. He stoned the San Jose Sharks, 2-1, with a 44-save calisthenics display Sunday in Game One of the Western Conference final, then boarded the team bus back to the hotel like he was going to fetch his car at remote airport parking.

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Quote of the Day

That was something I've been dreaming of, something I've told myself before the third period I was going to do ... It was an amazing feeling. It's hard to describe. I didn't believe it went in at first but when I saw all the reaction and all the fans going crazy and my teammates going crazy, it's just an unbelievable feeling. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether to jump or just skate and do a Theo Fleury. I don't think I'm the same caliber player he is so I couldn't do it.

— Flames forward Mikael Backlund on scoring the overtime winner against the Ducks in Gm. 3