Petshark: Talking Stick
Entries with the tag: dan boyle
Are these recent Sharks' losses nothing more than a slip, a dribble away from being wins? Are the Sharks just a flinch away from team fusion?
There was a spell during last night's game that made me want to cover my eyes, but I couldn't look away either. Okay, yes I could, but I had to put the game on pause and go do chores to stop looking. During those ten minutes or so, the team looked worse than they have in a long time. The errant passes, failures to clear and general happening of anything that could go wrong also emphasized how suddenly the Sharks pulled it together. The recovery made me think "see, they can just kick themselves into gear!"
Boyle, who isn’t afraid to be critical of his team’s effort, said: “I don’t say it too often after a loss, and maybe not so much the first 10 minutes, but after that I thought we were the much better team. It was a very good effort. We had lots of chances that we haven’t had in awhile. There was a couple freaky bounces and things that happened out there, but overall for 50 minutes, I think that was a very good effort.” -CSN Bay Area
Did the Sharks lack confidence through February? Well, obviously, but in what? What has been dragging them down? Have they dealt with "it" yet?
I had a thought yesterday morning, stemming from something one of the Bulls said to me weeks ago. He mentioned that the offensive game comes first for most players. They learn defense later with experience. It wasn't the first time I've heard that, but it took a while to sink in. Shouldn't shooting the puck be almost an involuntary reflex for a hockey player? Wouldn't it take a lot of un-training, or a horrible lack of confidence to suppress it?
Why would the Sharks lack confidence when they were passing the defense test with such high marks? Didn't they trust themselves yet? Were they still thinking too much?
If Burns is practicing next to Stuart, what does that mean? The other d-pairs were: Murray-Irwin, Boyle-Vlasic, and Demers-Braun. So, a Stuart-Burns pair could mean something is going to be different tomorrow. Take your choice: Murray and Irwin sit, or Demers and Braun sit, (I had to take a second to catch my breath after laughing at that one) or Brad Stuart isn't playing tomorrow. That might also give you a chuckle unless you're like me and you always think people are injured, and you can't believe that Burns is ready to play yet:
@PollakOnSharks :Burns paired w/Stuart at #SJSharks practice today, McLellan says he's getting closer to starting. Sat vs. PHX? "That might be pushing it."
And no, Brent Burns has not shaved his beard as he told Brodie Brazil he would do. He not only said that he'd shave before he played, but that he'd shave when he got close to playing. I would say today is close to tomorrow, and still there he was all furry faced.
Boyle and Vlasic? Of course they will play, unless Boyle doesn't. Hey, it was just practice. Maybe no one will play where they practiced.
Some ex-Worcester Shuttle frequent flyers have been on the move lately, and for some reason this is as interesting to me as pre-game thoughts about the Sharks in Anaheim. I have only one thought about tonight's game: the Sharks need to avenge that near loss they suffered at home on the 29th. I just hope it isn't with a near win like the Ducks got. Something on the order of a regulation win would be better.
Reports say Greiss will start, and Boyle missed the morning skate again due to lingering flu symptoms:
@PollakOnSharks: McLellan says Boyle missed practice because of flu symptoms, but should play. Note: #SJSharks coach said same when teams met 1/29. Hmm.
@PollakOnSharks: To be precise (and fair), #SJSharks McLellan said of Boyle that he "antcipates him playing."
Precise and fair it is. I did wonder if playing while sick or after just being sick would be a bad idea. I'll dwell on how perfectly rational that explanation is instead of getting all worked up about it. Right.
Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
Tags: ahl, anaheim+ducks, benn+ferriero, brad+staubitz, brandon+mashinter, connecticut+whale, dan+boyle, frazer+mclaren, new+york+rangers, thomas+greiss, tommy+grant, toronto+maple+leafs, victor+fasth
It's fairly unusual to have no assists given when a team scores four times in a game, especially when they are the only goals that team scored. It almost makes you think of the dread hazard: "playing like individuals instead of a team." In the case of the Sharks last night, I don't think that was the situation at all, though all of their goals were unassisted or shootout goals.
Yet none of those goals only belonged to the guys who got credit for them. Even the shootout goals were the result of the team making it through overtime. Couture's goal was beholden to Scott Gomez, who successfully got the puck away from Whitney at the perfect time for Couture to take it. Joe Pavelski's goal... well, yes, he did race up the ice, take the puck away from two players and put it in the net. But he had help getting that opportunity too: Boyle and Clowe closed on Yakupov at the same time. Boyle got the puck off the stick, and Clowe was in the way so the talented Edmonton forward couldn't get right after Pavelski. "Unassisted" sounds so solitary, it makes you think a whole bunch of players are going uncredited.
Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
Tags: bret+hedican, commentary, dan+boyle, edmonton+oilers, fear+the+fin, jamie+baker, joe+pavelski, michal+handzus, ryane+clowe
Jason Demers is ready to play. He took slapshots Tuesday and Wednesday, and spent some extra time working with both Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson after Tuesday's practice. Wednesday, he was practicing with a power play unit. That would argue for Demers being in sooner than later. My guess is that sooner would be even sooner if Boyle is still out Thursday. Today, Frazer McLaren was waived so the Sharks have made room for someone. That's a one, not some two.
Brent Burns, just yesterday so glum, looked better today. He did more drills with the team, he was taking longer strides, making more turns and stops. He looks better than he did before camp. Suddenly, he looks not so far from good to go, but that would be sudden. It's unreasonable to think one day would make such a difference. But back to back days skating, and skating harder the second day is great news. At least it indicates steady progress.
McLellan put some new lines to work this morning:
The Sharks appear to be working from a checklist. Obviously scoring in the first period is on that list. They have done that ever since that disappointing game in Calgary. Also, power play goals are important, their power play lacked some shock and awe last season. Needed to fix that.
Patrick Marleau had his two-goals-a-game objective. Perhaps that was drawing too much public attention away from the team, so he skipped it last night. Making NHL history would be way too high profile for such a modest guy. Still, it was clear that the Sharks wanted to get that 2nd goal for Marleau, because historic records are fun to hold. Too bad they were so worn out from back to back games.
Who were they playing against last night? I thought I heard it was some team that had a winning streak at HP Pavilion to defend. Does it even matter who the Sharks play anymore?
Are the Sharks ready? Is anyone?
I had to decide not to go to training camp today since I had plans to go with friends to a Bulls game. It takes us months to find a date that works for all of us, so I don't have regrets there. But I am cranky that the Sharks couldn't skate early enough for me to do both. It irked me that Flyers and Red Wings had volunteered to do physicals yesterday, and as far as I know Sharks didn't. My crankiness is no doubt amplified by eager impatience for this season to get going.
Dan Boyle explained that this eagerness is shared by the players. They can't truly know if they are ready either:
I did the best that I could to stay in shape... as much as you try, I think you need to play games to get into game shape. It may take a week or two but... Everybody's so excited to be playing, I think adrenaline will kick in and this was just such a miserable summer for everyone so we're all excited to be back on the ice. It should be a pretty exciting start to the season.
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Tags: bracken+kearns, dan+boyle, frazer+mclaren, james+sheppard, john+mccarthy, matt+irwin, matt+pelech, matt+tennyson, nick+petrecki, ryane+clowe, training+camp
There’s nothing to report from Shark Territory, but it’s been a long time since I posted anything so here are some thoughts on the latest lack of news.
A little over a week ago, Kevin Kurz asked if the Sharks owners should be allowed to profit from their NHL team. I winced at the word “allowed.” Lyle Richardson asked why the team is not profitable in his article from the 18th. But to ask if the owners should be allowed to make money is absurd. There is no law, rule or viable lobby that argues team owners should not be allowed to profit from their teams. Of course NHL teams are for-profit ventures. That said, there’s a difference between allowing someone to do something and finding ways to help them do it.
It gets sticky in terms of PR (which owners may or may not actually care about) when you cry poverty and you aren’t poor, and then try to make your employees pay for your unsatisfactory profits. Whether the NHL thinks they will benefit from a more closely regulated expense system or not, they had time under the 2005 CBA to figure out what a cap system can and can’t do to save owners from each other.
Here we go, into the offseason blame game. It should be as fun as a Bud Light ad. First, you get rid of the most visible under-performers, the players:
From a pure hockey standpoint, the smartest Sharks solution would be a maximum reboot and rebuild. Older players would go out the door. They would be traded for draft picks or young prospects. Over a few years, a new core of Sharks would be developed into winners. By 2017 or so, they’d be back among the league’s four or five best teams. -Mercury News
Well, yeah, but only if you keep the new youngsters around. Train ‘em up and ship ‘em out, assuming you do find a bunch of good ones (which would be safer to assume if present depth could back you up), and you’re right back here.
Besides, if Marleau and Clowe and Niemi and Boyle were all gone, who would fans have to blame? Well, there’s still Thornton, he will hang around and he’s fun to complain about. But what if he keeps playing well? Whose name will we scream in the ecstatic writhings of despair? Meh, someone will step up.
The last goal in the last minute (2 seconds shy anyway) of the last game on the last day of the regular NHL season was scored by Dan Boyle for the Sharks. The Sharks’ pride prize was winning four in a row to end the season against their nearest divisional rivals. In their last 10 of the season, they were 7-3-0. The prize in standings was to play the St. Louis Blues instead of the Vancouver Canucks, to which I had to say “wait, wait… WAIT!”
From the regular season record, the Sharks would have been better off playing Vancouver in the first round. They only beat Vancouver once this season, but they didn’t beat St. Louis at all.
The Kings were 3-1 against the Blues but only 2-2 against the Canucks. To me, that suggests that the Kings had greater playoff incentive to win last night.
The Sharks have not forgotten that stretch of frustrating losses and uninspired play they called a funk. They are not clear of it yet:
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Thornton said. “We’ve got six games left, and we’ve got to win some games just to get into the playoffs. It’s great getting all the way up to third, but we still have to keep going and working hard every night.” -Mercury News
When I wrote about the word “funk,” I didn’t really forget about another, fairly conspicuous definition of the word, but I did omit it, planning to bring it up again if the situation called for it. I don’t know if now really is the time but just in case I don’t get another chance….
When the game is winding down and the Sharks have a power play and Vlasic is out there with Douglas Murray, John McCarthy, and Brad Winchester, something has gone awry.
Here is where I begin a rant likely to alienate any hockey fan who bothers to read my blog. If it makes a difference, I know how you feel: alienated. So we have that in common. For the sake of that common experience, I apologize in advance.
I felt badly for the Blue Jackets going into the third period of last night’s game. What a disaster they are, how depressing to be them. That said, I wouldn’t for a second indulge their need to hit something. I’m not that much of a softie.
I guess the Sharks felt differently.
I introduced another friend to hockey last night. While Dan Boyle was punching the kneeling Brassard, my friend commented: “It’s not very gracious to be doing that, when the Sharks are up by so much. It isn’t very sportsmanlike.”
Last night, Benn Ferriero took one shot, got one point, and Antti Niemi blanked the Flames. No, Niemi didn’t do it by himself, but he gets the special credit for it.
Ferriero’s been kind of quiet lately, but last night he made an effort to point out the obvious: if you can’t hit the target, you need to get closer.
@SharksStats: Benn Ferriero’s 4th career game-winning goal, 3rd this season. All 3 GW goals this season in road games.
The lone goal of the game was Ferriero’s sixth of the season. It was the only shot he took, if you believe the shot counters, and he took it at point blank range. I think that might qualify as a teachable moment. Sounds like McLellan thinks so too:
“We’ve got to get a little hungrier in and around the net, much like the winning goal tonight.” -Mercury News
It was just one goal. It was the Flames. The Flames have been better lately, but they’re still the Flames.
It was just the first win for the Sharks after three losses.
Luck and legend distinguish the Dragon from the other symbols in the Chinese and Mongolian zodiac. It is said to be the very luckiest birth year, the sign of the emperor. Unlike the other symbols, a dragon is not the sort of critter most of us will see in our lifetimes. Since there are twelve signs in this system, that is a little surprising. The year starts today and ends around this time in 2013.
As someone who grew up in San Francisco, I guess I should say something about the Niners. They lost. Bummer for Niners fans. I wasn’t all that anxious for them to win because I feel that trips to championship finals disperse geographically in such a way that if the Niners had gone on, this would have been bad news for the Sharks. Look what happened with the Giants- the other Giants I mean. Condolences to Niners fans, may the loss not be in vain.
The Sharks begin the year in Edmonton. I don’t know if any of them attended a parade, but a big spectacle like an NHL game should do. Wow… that would be cool, if someone brought a paper and silk dragon to the game and sent it around the stands… I know, that probably won’t happen.
Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
Tags: dan+boyle, james+sheppard, jamie+mcginn, jason+demers, joe+thornton, logan+couture, patrick+marleau, thomas+greiss, todd+mclellan, tommy+wingels, year+of+the+dragon
One of the things that stuck out for me in the Sharks’ Tuesday loss to Minnesota was how many times Niemi got run into or buried under bodies. He seems like a sturdy fellow but that has to be kind of tough on a goalie. That’s a special kind of failure to defend. That was just one symptom of breakdowns from the Sharks. There were enough such to have McLellan shuffling the lines and looking very cross. I just hope Niemi didn’t get banged up, bent wrong or otherwise harmed under there.
The television cameras gave us a good indication of why Ryane Clowe will be wearing a cage for the next week. Apparently the treatment of bleeding noses makes good tv.
Of course the last-minute comeback to push the game to overtime was fun also. That those goals came from the team’s usual suspects made me wonder about a couple of things.
The Caps came to San Jose, gave Sharks fans a great game to watch, and brought Stephen Whyno from The Washington Times with them. Well, the Caps didn’t bring him but that’s why he was here. He promptly wrote a story about Douglas Murray and his approach to hitting, under new rules and old. Murray followed that up with a demonstration, during the game. For anyone bothered by said demonstration, there’s a Twitter hashtag: #blameWhyno.
A few good things happened this weekend in my hockey book, along with the above-mentioned marvelous Sharks demonstration of why the Capitals will never win here. Sharks have been winning. Flyers winning too. Leighton won in the AHL outdoor game. Yes, I’m an unabashed Leighton fan. I am strange, perhaps, or just loyal to a fault. Whatever. The Phantoms won 4-3 in OT, not a splendid win for a goalie, but hey, a win’s a win, most of the time.
That tweeted reaction to Wednesday’s win courtesy of the tweeter known as @TeamNiemiClowe. I may have left out some exclamation points. I try to stay positive, I wish I had the cheerleader mentality some have attributed to me, but when I saw that tweet I thought “really? Has it come to this? Shouldn’t beating the Ducks be less of a big deal?” I am in the clutches of the dark side, the angry CB cackling in my head. During the game, I took it out on the number three:
Numbers more important than 3:
- First two goals scored by #10.
- First period ended with score at 1-0, which neither contains nor is divisible by three.
- 2 Sharks goals scored 22 seconds apart, by guys with names that start with B and have 4 letters: Brad and Benn. There’s no “b” in three.
Three games against the Canucks, three ending 3-2. In fact, the Sharks’ last three games against anyone ended 3-2. Last night, the Sharks avoided losing three games in a row, or three to the Canucks. Thornton was guilty of three turnovers. The game produced three points, one for the Canucks, two for the Sharks. The Sharks practiced three times between games against the Canucks. I haven’t counted how many times Nemo taps the posts with his stick between shootout rounds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s three.
All right, Sharks. FINE, you really like your threes, I get it. I’ll try not to say things to belittle or mock your faith. I still think it would be better if…. Oh, never mind. Bleeding cultists.
I don’t mind being wrong when it means the team wins. I take absolutely no joy in being right when it means the team loses. I wasn’t sure the Sharks would lose to the Canucks last night, but I was really very certain it would not end 3-2. Whatev.
Friday the Sharks had a long practice, were on the ice for about 90 minutes. They seemed to be working on the power play in particular. Nitty and Greiss shared one net, Nemo had the other.
Someone yelled “*#$%@&!” but I was looking the wrong way to know who it was. I think maybe it was Greiss because there was a puck in his net, but it didn’t exactly sound like him. Then again, I don’t hear him yelling anything a lot out there so I couldn’t be sure. I don’t think the children heard it.
Seeing Boyle looking well and playing well made me glad, a reassuring feeling like when you have a paycheck in your pocket or a full tank of gas. Everything felt okay.
Well that was a strange thing to be thinking, what with the Sharks having lost those two games, those two terribly important games to end the home stand. It should feel like being on the losing side at the Alamo, not reassuring at all. But it didn’t, it didn’t feel like the last stand before the end of the world as we know it.
Niemi will start for the Sharks tonight, Greiss will backup again. Aside from distracting us from the usual question about who will start, the answer to “who will backup?” doesn’t really tell us a lot. Which goalie will they move? Based on who sits on the bench, you could argue either way.
Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer are still out. It goes without saying, but I don’t want to forget about him: Martin Havlat is out too, as he will be for a long while. According to Kevin Kurz, the lines looked unchanged from the last game at the Sharks’ morning skate.
That skate was a long one, according to tweets from Brodie Brazil.
@brodiebrazilCSN: Boyle on #sjsharks long skate today: “trying to get our mindset back into the game and not in the clouds and Christmas presents, and stuff.”
Dan Boyle gave an injury update last night after the game:
“I don’t want to make it sound like an excuse, but [injuries have] been a factor. I had a broken foot there for a while, and it really hurt my skating. Just being healthy for me has been a big difference the last five or six games or so.” -Sharks Talk
“A big difference.” You don’t say.
Let’s go back a little ways in the saga of Dan Boyle explaining his troubles this season:
“The game’s changed,” he said. “Everybody’s playing the same way – the neutral zone is pretty much eliminated, which is where I get a lot of my offense. Everybody just fires long bombs, chipping it in. It’s just a little bit more frustrating for me.” -Working the Corners, Nov 27, 2011
There’s that. Maybe Boyle was in the painful process of updating and revamping his style of play. Or maybe his sticks were too long and he had a broken foot.
Todd McLellan says he doesn’t think booing is a good motivational tool, but he’ll take it if it works. I agree. I prefer a stern silence, but any help is welcome. The Sharks did get booed Thursday night. Even though they won, there were still holes in their game big enough to boo.
In a few minutes, Nitty will start for the Worcester Sharks against the Albany Devils. I guess the Sharks’ goalie glut is upon us.
I didn’t feel at all like booing the Sharks Thursday. Sure, I would have preferred a more complete win, without all that falling behind nonsense. I would have preferred they beat a team that was not green, was less tired, and was playing better. I would have preferred fewer penalties, and maybe a pk that could survive without Marleau. But it was a win and I’m happy for it.
Apparently Todd McLellan chose “trust” as the theme of the season for the Sharks. If the team has been doing trust exercises, I bet there are a lot of bruised derrieres right now. This morning Twitter was fairly quiet regarding the Sharks. Two lone tweets came out from practice saying only that the gates were closed and the injured defensemen were skating before the group. It was an unsettling silence, a silence that allowed for all manner of speculation after yesterday’s loss.
@FTFsTCY: “There are definitely rumors floating around today. Just an FYI that any involving Marleau are bunk. He has a full NMC.”
It turns out that David Pollak was still in transit from Denver, and his internet access was limited. Kevin Kurz was ill. I guess Mark Emmons just didn’t feel very chatty. Nothing much came out today in terms of Sharks news, especially about the NHL issues of the day. No one has a concussion and McLellan has not been fired. And no, Marleau is not being traded (as far as we know).
First, some news: Desjardins only got fined for boarding Sami Lepisto, no suspension. Thank goodness, don’t need the lower lines destabilized right now. Also, Terry Murray got fired. His place is being filled by John Stevens. Finally, Nitty is off IR and going to Worcester for conditioning. He can stay there for a maximum of 14 days and could conceivably play in 6 games, if he plays 3 in 3 days. Uh huh.
“Out of gas.” That’s the title of one of my favorite episodes of Firefly. It’s also one of the things folks said about the Sharks third period and OT in Chicago. What did the team think? The coach? Hard to tell. Their quotes are as opaque as ever. So I decided to look up some better quotes. Here’s one from the above-mentioned episode of Firefly:
Mal: Ship like this, be with you ‘til the day you die.
Zoë Washburne: ‘Cause it’s a deathtrap.
They’re both right, it’s the classic problem of one thing seen from two different perspectives.
It wouldn’t be ridiculous to say that the stars were aligned so the Sharks would win Thursday. Statistically, Dallas was expected to lose. But the Sharks haven’t really been following statistical rules lately, have they? So better to say they are following some metaphysical pattern that we can’t quantify. Maybe Cancer got shot up by a meteor shower and all its children are still picking up the pieces.
Most Sharks had good reason to be a little cranky, impatient, even pissed off with themselves. Were they angry at each other? Of course not, hockey players don’t get angry with teammates. In any case, one would hope they’d had enough of losing and were ready to win.
All I needed from the Sharks Thursday was to not lose to another team they should beat. Their recent outings had lowered the bar for what I required from a Sharks game. I won’t put the Panthers in the class of “teams Sharks should beat handily” just yet. But there were the Habs too. Sure, the Sharks beat them. That was fun but it could have been less suspenseful. Minnesota? Yeah, they’re doing pretty well but there’s no reason to think the Sharks can’t beat them. Every time.
Oh what a difference a week can make. A diligent fan should follow her team wherever they go, even off the rails. So here I go.
A week ago tomorrow, I was at The Tank watching the Sharks tear a win from the Blackhawks, a win as indisputable as any rope pulling contest between my two Labs. But they did win. Since then, they lost two, Marleau moved back to the top line where it is rumored he will never score again. Dan Boyle’s age has come up, and by association, Douglas Murray has aged half a dozen years in three days, revealing that he is, in fact, the portrait of Dan Boyle, doomed to age in his partner’s place. Boyle feels badly about that so his mojo is off, but he still doesn’t want to share the puck or the PIMs. With anyone.
On the flip side of that we have Mitchell, who was told by a woman in white that his hair and teeth will fall out if he shoots the puck, so he passes it whenever possible. Havlat has a horror of the number three ever since seeing Seven, so being moved to the third line rendered him pale to the point of invisibility. Niemi has contracted sloth syndrome (not the sinful mess kind, the cute but slow-moving furry tree-hugging kind).
I did harp on how important the third period would be in last night’s Coyotes @ Sharks game. I’d like to start with how obvious it was that the Sharks took the third period very seriously, worked hard and had their heads in the game, even if the first and the second periods slipped through the cracks.
I’d like to, but I have to settle for giving the team the benefit of the doubt and supposing they were trying really hard to get their act together, in some subtle way I just couldn’t see. They were more frantic but no more effective. After all, Thornton was bleeding from his face. He must have been trying to do something.
The Sharks again outshot their opponent, in the second 2 periods by 11-5 and 13-7. So they were doing something.
Here’s what’s been said about last night’s game against the LA Kings: “Sharks hold court over Kings in 4-2 win,” “Sharks learn from mistakes, trump Kings 4-2,” “San Jose Sharks defeat Los Angeles Kings 4-2.” Now that’s more like it, Sharks.
During the second intermission, I heard a man say behind me “3-1, huh? Isn’t that what the score was last time…” But another man cut him off saying “What the hell… saying that…. What are you trying to do?!?”
I kept telling myself “lightning never strikes the same spot twice, right?” Of course we all know that isn’t true, especially if you set up a lightning rod.
It is early still to say whether or not the Sharks’ plans for the 2011-12 season are working, but there is some data available.
First part of the plan was to get Dan Boyle’s minutes down. It does look like his TOI is creeping down. At least from the first game (27:28) to the last (22:49) there’s a reduction, with a spike of in the middle there. Boyle’s time on the penalty kill isn’t dropping off as much as some would like but overall others are balancing out his minutes. The drop is not drastic but it is there, probably because Vlasic and Burns are looking better.
There’s a story about two joggers being chased by a bear. One stops to tie his shoes and the other asks “why are you doing that? You can’t outrun a bear.” The first replies “I don’t have to run outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.” The same goes for winning a game. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be better than the other guy.
I thought the Sharks game in Boston was their best of the season, but I use strange metrics. They had some messy meltdowns, but as a whole their game was more resilient and aggressive. Niemi looked miles better, until the third period. His own error behind the net resulted in the first goal that broke his shutout. The second Bruins goal was a cruel one. The Sharks, make that Boyle and Murray in particular, got tangled up and left their goalie all on his own while he was still trying to get over the first big failure. Not fair, that is no way to support your goalie in his time of need. Even after all that, Niemi still finished the game looking quicker than he did in New Jersey.