|Forensics: Antti Niemi||Tweet|
|Written by Mac Vincent|
|Thursday, 13 September 2012 23:51|
Antti Niemi has come a long way since he was first noticed in Europe. He began playing junior hockey for Kiekko-Vantaa in 1998, and during his time there (until 2005) Niemi also worked part time as a Zamboni driver. He turned pro in 2005 with the Pelicans in the Finnish league SM-liiga. As a 24-year-old, he compiled a 26-6-14 record, with a 2.35 GAA and .927 SV%. Scouts noticed his play and he went on to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
After playing most of the 2008-2009 season with the Rockford Ice Hogs, Niemi was called up in February of 2008 as an injury replacement. Niemi made his NHL debut on February 27th, playing one period in an eventual 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago, Niemi filed for arbitration and was awarded $2.75 million once his case was settled. Chicago was not interested in paying that kind of money to Niemi due to salary cap issues. Chicago attempted to fill the void and would then sign Marty Turco that off-season. On September 2nd of 2010, Niemi signed a one-year deal, worth $2 million with the San Jose Sharks. After impressing in his first season with San Jose, Niemi would sign a four-year contract extension worth $15.2 million.
Any time a team doesn’t live up to expectations, you always hear fans go after the coach, captain and goalie. How can you blame Niemi for the Sharks performance in 2011/2012? Niemi’s numbers were pretty solid across the board.
According to Frozen Pool’s Roto Ranker, Niemi ranked eleventh overall in head-to-head leagues.
Niemi also played the fifth most games of any goalie in the NHL with 68. Pekka Rinne, along with Jonas Hiller led the league with 73 games played; Miikka Kiprusoff was third with 70, while Niemi tied with Ondrej Pavelec and Cam Ward.
Niemi’s issues are all about game-to-game consistency; here are a few examples of that.
October 17th vs. Anaheim: 3 GA on 22 shots against, .864 SV%
October 21st @ New Jersey: 3 GA on 19 shots against, .842 SV%
October 22nd @ Boston: 2 GA on 39 shots against, .949 SV%
October 25th @ Nashville: 1 GA on 20 shots against, .950 SV%
October 28th @ Detroit: 2 GA on 32 shots against, .938 SV%
October 31st @ New York Rangers: 5 GA on 31 shots against, .839 SV%
November 3rd vs. Pittsburgh: 2 GA on 6 shots against, .667 SV%
November 5th vs. Nashville: 4 GA on 35 shots against, .886 SV%
November 7th vs. Los Angeles: 2 GA on 31 shots against, .935 SV%
November 10th vs. Minnesota: 1 GA on 22 shots against, .955 SV%
November 17th vs. Detroit: 2 GA on 42 shots against, .952 SV%
November 19th @ DAL: 1 GA on 31 shots against, .968 SV%
November 23rd vs. Chicago: 0 GA on 34 shots against, .1000 SV%
December 10th @ Minnesota: 4 GA on 31 shots against, .871 SV%
What I take away from these numbers is that Niemi’s overall play excuses some of those poor performances and when he gets on a roll, he’s definitely one of the tougher goalies to beat in the NHL.
Home: 21-9-3, 2.17 GAA, .922 SV%, 4 SHO
Away: 13-13-6, 2.69 GAA, .907 SV%, 2 SHO
He seems to struggle on the road as you can see by the splits listed above. Every player prefers to play at home, but Niemi is going to have to balance out his home and road performances to put up better overall numbers. Niemi definitely finished the season strong, despite the Sharks being eliminated in the first round by St. Louis.
Here are his stats in the playoffs: 1-4, 2.45 GAA, .914 SV%. If Niemi played better in game three (4 GA on 27 shots against), his numbers would be much more impressive. That game aside, Niemi’s save percentage in game one was .952, .906 in game two, .917 in game four and .923 in game five.
Something else to consider with Niemi is the improved play of Thomas Greiss, who definitely pushed Niemi at a few points in 2011-2012. Greiss finished with a 9-7 record in 19 games, along with a 2.30 GAA and .915 SV%. All of those numbers represented career bests for Greiss, as his career GAA stands at 2.50, save percentage at .911 and his previous career high win total was 7 (2009-2010).
After looking through all of these numbers, I feel confident Niemi will bounce back, even though he really wasn’t nearly as bad as people said he was in 2011-2012. You may want to handcuff him with Thomas Greiss just in case.
Mac can be found on the forums as dmvincent, and you can also follow him on twitter @MacVincent1.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 15 September 2012 21:19|