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23 Intently Staring Goalies

The Dance Continues—Greiss Starts in Goal for Sharks

*Tap-tap-tap-tappity-tap-tap-tap*

The San Jose Sharks goaltending continues to be, um, a bit fluid, and it’s making for some interesting press conferences. What’s coming out is more than a bit hazy, sometimes a bit snarky, and points to problems in the past.

From Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News:

You already know that it will be Thomas Greiss in goal against Phoenix Saturday night. Antti Niemi just isn’t ready as he comes off minor surgery to remove a cyst.

  But coach Todd McLellan insists that Niemi isn’t far away.

“Antti is very close to being healthy enough,” McLellan said. “When you talk about health, you’re talking physically and mentally. There’s a recovery from injury and finding your game. Our schedule has been kind to us because we get a few days off again before we play next. We would rather target that than opening night.”

*Tap-tap-tap-tappity-tap-tap-tap*

The “is he or isn’t he” dance continues with the San Jose Sharks, where it’s anone’s guess whether Niemi is going to be ready to play on the 14th, or whenever. Even though the Sharks management keeps saying "almost there—really!", they keep saying that.

Yes, recoveries are a problem to predict, especially when they are something as odd as a cyst on a leg—and how long did we have to wait until the Sharks coughed up that much information? But I know I would feel a lot more comfortable if someone just came out and said "Hey, Greiss is our man for the first two weeks of the season, and then we’ll see."

The current situation is an improvement over what was being said at the beginning of camp, where no one seemed to know when/if Niemi would be available to play. Add in Niittymaki definitely not being able to play for 12 weeks, and the Sharks should have been thanking whoever thought to keep Greiss on the payroll.

*shuffle-change, ball-change-step, tappity-tap-tap*

“We anticipated having both of the Finnish goalies ready,” McLellan said. “But we thought Greiss was valuable in our organization and now he’s our No. 1 goalie.”

McLellan added that Greiss has matured after a year playing in Europe.

“I think he feels like he belongs here and expects to be here,” he said. “His teammates are more comfortable with him. His teammates have been around him more and know what to expect from him in certain situations. Because of circumstances, it wasn’t a pleasant season for him (last year). But now he’s back in the NHL, starting on Opening Night and it’s another life for him.”

Ow—love that Greiss is here, but let’s smack him one anyway. McLellan is usually better at phrasing. So, we’re to take away from this that the Sharks and Greiss didn’t see eye to eye over the past few seasons, and now things are all better? Hurry—get a quote!

*heel-toe-heel-toe, shuffle ball-change-step*

Defenseman Dan Boyle said teammates have complete confidence in Greiss.

“He’s a very good goalie,” Boyle said. “He’s really hard to score against in practice. We have faith in him.”

Houston, we have a quote.

*tap-tappity-tap*

This situation bothers me. There’s a lot of insinuations about what went on with Greiss and Sharks management, and everyone is playing good soldier while madly dancing for the press. I can understand if Greiss was unhappy with his playing situation two seasons ago, as Nabokov seemed to want to play every game, and Greiss was relegated to opening gates an taking notes. If I was watching my chance at making an impression roll by, I might start getting grumpy about where I was, and where I was going with the Sharks organization.

Add to this the uncertainty before the beginning on the season , and this is creating a atmosphere of questioning what’s been going on behind the curtain. Is there really that much teeth clenching going on behind the smiles? Are they a lot more worried about when Niemi makes it back than they’re letting on? Are there questions about goalie depth that they don’t have an answer for?

I’m not sure if they’re thinking at all about what happens if/when Niittymaki comes back. I don’t think they are thinking that far into the future. I’d be happier if the Sharks were, since that would imply that they know what’s going to happen in the next two weeks.

*kick, shuffle-change, kick, big flourish, tap-tap, bow*

Guess we’e going to have to wait and see if this dance is coming back for encores.

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Comments

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Since the Sharks still have full time media coverage there is more than enough clear information available on this situation. Regardless it appears you need to create intrigue for a headline. 
Niemi has been skating and taking shots for approx 10 days.  The Sharks play tonight and then not again for 6 days.  Logic and safety make the decision very easy.  Greiss starts tonight and Niemi gets 6 more days to ensure he is 100% ready to go. 
Anyone who watched Greiss backstop the preseason saw a very different Greiss than the last time we saw him in the NHL.  He was average at best when he backed up Nabakov in 2009-10.  He was outstanding this preseason-to the point most Sharks fans were asking who is that masked man wearing Greiss’s jersey. 
tap-tappity-tap* Greiss showed great class re-signing with the Sharks after being the odd man out last year.  He clearly wants to be a Shark and play in the NHL. Tonight he does both.

Posted by jpsf on 10/08/11 at 06:45 PM ET

Avatar

Hi Laurie,

I was bored. Stumbled upon your novelette. Nice. Helped my kill 10 minutes today. Thanks.

Not sure how the Sharks will do this year, but regardless of what “drama” they create/is created for them by pundits, they somehow manage to do pretty well. For the record, they have 3 goalies, one of which is recovering from injury/surgery.  Niemi (#1) has played well, and Greiss (#2 currently) has also done well.

Can’t say the same for the rest of the team.

Good info on the Sharks can be had at:
http://www.mercurynews.com/sharks
http://blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks/
http://www.fearthefin.com/

Posted by Scum from Toronto on 10/24/11 at 04:31 PM ET

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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies

23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.

On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.

I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.

We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.

It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!