It took half a season, but Antti Niemi
and the San Jose Sharks
have both found their game.
The Sharks signed Niemi last summer -- three months after he helped the Chicago Blackhawks
sweep them on the way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 49 years. But the Sharks and their new goaltender both struggled -- San Jose was battling to stay in the top eight in the West, and Niemi reached the new year with a goals-against average of 3.08 and a save percentage of .899.
But Niemi began to find his game in mid-January, and he was the biggest reason the Sharks finished February with an 11-2-0 record despite playing 10 of their 13 games on the road. Niemi started all 13 games, went 10-2-0 and allowed just 24 goals while posting three shutouts.
For the second week in a row, Niemi went 3-0-0 -- this time beating Detroit, Pittsburgh and Calgary on the road. His GAA is down to 2.44 as San Jose prepares to begin March, while his save percentage has improved to .919. Not coincidentally, the Sharks have climbed back into first place in the Pacific Division.