Unlike years past, Antti Niemi is no longer the clear-cut No. 1 goaltender for the San Jose Sharks.
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Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News on Monday that he plans on taking a good look at Niemi and Alex Stalock this preseason and then will give each an opportunity to grab the staring job when the regular season gets underway on Oct. 8.
"Preseason, they'll have equal opportunity -- they always have," McLellan told the newspaper. "Then as the season opens they'll both have the opportunity to establish themselves, and if somebody gets hot, we'll run that hot goaltender for a little while.
"In the past we've probably been slower to transfer responsibility from one to the other over a given period. That may happen quicker this year."
Niemi, 31, went 39-17-7 with a 2.39 goals-against average and four shutouts last season. Stalock, 27, went 12-5-2 with a 1.87 GAA and .932 save percentage.
"A lot of people don't realize the relationship we actually have away from the rink," Stalock said. "We're pretty close, and obviously we both are mature professionals that understand there's one net and two goalies."
"I think it's always up to how you perform," Niemi said. "You've got to focus on the same things as before, just be ready to go and play well."