SAN JOSE -- Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi were two of the last players in the San Jose Sharks dressing room after practice Tuesday, the day before one of the biggest games in the history of the franchise.
Stalock and Niemi were discussing the skating ability of some goalies, and at one point Stalock told Niemi a story about participating in a goalie race a few years back in Michigan with other top American players at the position.
It was a joke, a con that Stalock kept up for the entire conversation before letting Niemi in on it near the end. For people who don't get to witness interactions like that, the idea of two goaltenders who are competing for the same spot and each of whom told the media they did not know who would start Game 7 of this Western Conference First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings remaining friendly might seem far-fetched.
"Obviously it is good to have competition, but we get along great and we're good friends," Stalock said. "I think [not talking] would only hurt the play. I think it is great that we get along and help each other and push each other."
For Sharks coach Todd McLellan, it could be one of the most important decisions of his tenure. San Jose is trying to avoid becoming the fourth team in NHL history to lose a series after taking a 3-0 lead, and he has to choose between the goalie he has pulled from his past two starts and someone who has one career start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
McLellan spoke to both goaltenders on the ice at practice Tuesday.
"Told them both to be ready to go," McLellan said to the media after the workout leading into Game 7 on Wednesday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, PRIME, CSN-CA).
Which way will McLellan turn? Here's the argument for each goaltender: