There wasn’t much lingering doubt about Todd McLellan’s thoughts on the Sharks goalie situation after Sunday’s Easter practice.
“Nemo will play tomorrow,” McLellan calmly stated. “He is our guy. We feel really good with (Niemi). He’s had a bounce back game already and played extremely well the night after getting hooked.”
McLellan’s quote let everyone know the Game 5 loss couldn’t solely be placed at Niemi’s feet.
“I don’t think we did a lot to help him,” McLellan said. “I think we addressed that after the game. He’s ready to go back in and we have a ton of confidence in him.”
Niemi said McLellan simply informed him in a brief conversation before the practice began. Niemi plan to aim forward and not focus on the past, whether it’s a successful or non-successful game.”
“You can’t rely on that, you’ve got to focus on the game,” Niemi said. “It’s always a new time when you have to come back. Just preparation and not thinking about it too much.”
McLellan said Niemi’s past though is a strong factor in his favor and the coaches won’t try to change much.
“He has to do what he always has done,” McLellan said. “He puts the pads on, gets into the blue paint and he has to find his comfort zone as far as depth and angles. The last thing we’re going to try and do is tinker with it at this point.”
The key is making sure Niemi doesn’t have to be a one man show.
“We have to be there to help him, we can’t give them layups,” McLellan said. “We’re in it collectively. I know they want to play for him and that’s an important factor in the decision as well. We don't expect him to be perfect, we expect him to be a litte bit better and he expects that out of himself.”