Antti Niemi

Update: Sharks still can’t beat the worst team in the NHL

Joe Thornton San Jose SharksDon’t sweat this one too much, guys. If I seem rather crusty on this post, just ignore me. I’m frustrated that I got to watch very little of the Olympics because all of the games were on at either ungodly or inopportune times. Then I miss the Sharks dismantling of the Flyers to finally settle in and watch them get embarrassed in Buffalo 4-2. But it’s not a big deal. Trust me. Give it a week. Hell, give it two days. You’ll forget about it.

You know how the Giants can never seem to beat the Marlins? It’s kind of like that. San Jose as a franchise has only won a single game in Buffalo, and that phenomenon has absolutely nothing to do with talent or record. It’s all about ownage being ownage — or Mercury being in retrograde, if you’re more into Andrea the Astrologer than Mike Krukow.

The NHL season is long and arduous and too long and too arduous, so leave your Chicken Little costume in the closet when I remind you that the Sharks will make the playoffs, as they do every season, and the Sabres will not, as pretty much everybody predicted. These two facts are mutually exclusive, and this performance is in no way indicative of any kind of trend.

But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Just like none of you should have gotten too excited about the offensive explosion in Philly, I trust you aren’t selling over an odd-and-yet-somewhat-expected no-show against the Sabres.

Truthfully, this game had all the makings of a bizarre afternoon. Ryan Miller wasn’t skating for warmups and the news of his trade, along with captain Steve Ott, to the St. Louis Blues was certain to have some kind of bizarre effect on the NHL’s worst team. The team even held press conferences with Miller, Ott and GM Tim Murray during the intermissions, which is a first in my short yet illustrious career covering hockey.

Not to mention Miller being out meant backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth would be in net. Naturally, he allowed only two goals on 38 shots, which is about all I have to say on that Sharks meme. The Sharks offense put plenty of pressure on — CORSI loved them, for the first 40 minutes anyway — but simply didn’t do enough. One James Sheppard goal over 58 minutes plus a late score from Patrick Marleau wouldn’t do it, especially the way Antti Niemi was playing.

Yes, Niemi. You knew it would come to this. “That’s one Niemi probably wants back” is something I’ve heard Drew Remenda say far too many times this season, and although he only said it once Friday (after Cody Hodgson’s goal midway through the first), he owed us another one for Brian Flynn’s face-off goal in the third.

That broke a long-standing 1-1 tie, and then Adam Burish showed us all why he’s earning the big bucks by having Tyler Myers school him at the blue line before hitting Matt Moulson for the game-winner. It’s understandable that the Sharks sat Raffi Torres after his first game back, but once he’s in full game shape, Burish needs to see sparse ice time.

So now we reflect: the Sharks should be virtually inactive in the upcoming trade deadline, and for good reason. While the Sabres dismantle their circular locker room for the future, San Jose is ready for yet another playoff push. They’ve just got a couple of things to fix right now if they don’t want Groundhog Day come April.

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