Updated Oct. 25
Sharks coach Todd McLellan had a funny line Sunday after his team was blown away in Calgary, insisting that San Jose was so off, its players wouldn't have touched a puck even if there were two of them on the ice.
|Captain Joe Thornton and the Sharks forwards are in major negative territory. (Getty Images)|
Niemi though, is part of the Sharks' new goaltending tandem, a Stanley Cup winner brought in along with Antero Nittymaki to take a talented team further than Evgeni Nabokov ever did. Nittymaki has held up his end of the bargain with some sparkling numbers so far, but the three goals on five shots Niemi allowed before being yanked against the Flames left him with a save percentage of .854 and a goals-against average of 4.49.
Those kinds of stats might lead one to suspect Niemi is really sorry about leaving Chicago. Then again, the reigning Cup champs aren't playing that well defensively either, and like San Jose, as yet haven't really distinguished themselves on the ice. In fact it has become something of the norm out West as the first month of the season approaches its conclusion, with elites like the Sharks, Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks all having what might be generously termed as uninspired starts.
The flip side is the opportunity it has created early for teams that work hard and have good goaltending like Nashville, Dallas and St. Louis to grab and stockpile some valuable points. It's parity at work in a conference that might be a lot tighter than a lot of people realize.
The rankings through Sunday's games: