PHT: Sharks should practice patience with Niemi

May 1, 2011, 4:32 pm
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May 1, 2011James O'Brien

In this instant media age, its not surprising that the hockey public can turn on a goalie in a heart beat. Inexperience, bad luck and spotty defensive support are rarely accepted as excuses, even if theres often more to a scoreboard meltdown than a shaky netminder.Many NHL coaches are ridiculed for sticking with goalies in those bleaker moments, but lets not assume that we know more about these individuals than the teams who handle them. The Philadelphia Flyers probably get a little too much heat for their history of goaltending struggles they have been a consistently competitive franchise for a staggering amount of time, after all but their recent carousel has been problematic. Was it really fair to pull the plug on Sergei Bobrovsky so quickly in Round 1 after he helped them so much during the season?The polar opposite example is Roberto Luongo. He struggled against Chicago up until Game 7, but has been outstanding since then. He allowed one goal in that Game 7 OT win, pitched a shutout in Game 1 against Nashville and was beaten twice in last nights double overtime loss. Maybe he has been upstaged by at times by Corey Crawford and Pekka Rinne, but he rewarded Vancouvers patience by allowing just three goals in about 11 periods of hockey.Niemis struggles against Los Angeles generates concernGoing into their second round series against the Detroit Red Wings, the San Jose Sharks faced (and still face) probing questions about Antti Niemi. It is indeed tough to deny that they should keep an eye on the Finnish sophomore netminder after he was pulled in two of the Sharks final four playoff games against the Los Angeles Kings.READ MORE>