Where are the Sharks without Niemi?
Since Thomas Greiss shut out Colorado on Jan. 26, the Sharks have scored just four goals in three games with Greiss in net. (AP)
CALGARY – The rust on Thomas Greiss was evident early in the Sharks’ 4-1 loss in Calgary on Wednesday.
The goaltender allowed a big rebound of a Jay Bouwmeester shot to the stick of Roman Cervenka, and the forward easily flinged it into an open net at 4:27 to put the Sharks in an early hole.
Blake Comeau’s shot early in the third broke a 1-1 tie and ended up as the game-winner on another shot that could have been stopped by the 27-year-old.
Todd McLellan thought that the Comeau shot may have deflected off of Matt Irwin’s stick on its way in, and replays were inconclusive. Greiss didn’t know for certain either immediately after the game, but suggested he misplayed it.
“I’m not sure, I think I might have just been off my angle. I’m not sure what happened there,” he said.
Greiss allowed three goals on 25 shots, including a Jarome Iginla goal when Douglas Murray turned the puck over in the defensive zone later in the third, in falling to 1-3-0 this season, with a 2.78 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.
Of course, the Sharks didn’t give Greiss much room for error for the third time in four starts by the German native. Since Greiss shut out the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on Jan. 26, the Sharks have scored just four goals in three games when Greiss is in the net. That includes the 6-2 loss in Columbus on Feb. 11 in what was their worst game of the season, from Greiss right on through the lineup.
“You always try your best and just focus on your game and see what happens from there. If we don’t score much, we have to make big saves, too,” Greiss said. “You just try and do your best, and your job.”
Wednesday’s game could be the last start Greiss sees for a little while, and barring an injury to Antti Niemi, he might not see much action, period. McLellan said before the game in Calgary that Niemi “could play every game until the end of the year, and be fine.”
Each of Greiss’ four starts has come in a back-to-back situation. San Jose has another one of those this weekend, but Sunday’s 6 p.m. local start in Denver follows a 1 p.m. home tilt with St. Louis. Expect Niemi to start them both.
An upcoming 11-day road trip features five games, one every other day. The Sharks don’t have another back-to-back until March 27 and 28, both at home, against Anaheim and Detroit.
Stuart the PK leader?
After showing his durability and relentlessness on the penalty kill on Tuesday in Vancouver, Brad Stuart was asked if he considers himself the team’s leader when it comes to playing shorthanded.
Stuart has the most ice time shorthanded, with 3:06 per game.
“I’m not going to consider myself the leader, but I definitely think I’m a big part of it. I take a lot of pride working as hard as you can to kill off that penalty,” Stuart said.
“For me, it’s almost like being on the power play. You take pride in that percentage. They’re trying to score goals, and I’m trying to make sure the other team doesn’t.”
The Sharks’ penalty kill percentage has reached 88.0 percent, good for fourth in the league. Now if only they could get that power play going…