Who will start in goal vs. Red Wings?

February 18, 2012, 4:45 pm
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Antti Niemi will start Sunday against Detroit.

RALEIGH Could Thomas Greiss start against the Detroit Red Wings when the Sharks pay them a visit on Sunday afternoon?

According to Todd McLellan, maybe. That was the most interesting nugget of information gleaned from the head coachs postgame comments after the 3-2 loss to Carolina on Friday night, San Joses fifth loss in the last seven games (2-4-1).

McLellan, who mentioned that the goaltending and play around the Sharks net was much improved from the 6-5 overtime loss to Tampa Bay a night earlier, was asked if that makes him rethink how much ice time Greiss and starter Antti Niemi will get moving forward.

Yeah, it does, he said. Well have to sit down and determine who starts next, but that wont happen tonight.
RELATED: Niemi stats Greiss stats

The Sharks are scheduled to practice in Detroit on Saturday afternoon.

McLellan was uncharacteristically critical of Niemi (23-13-6, 2.42 GAA, .914 SP) after the loss to Tampa, in which the goaltender allowed six goals on 25 shots, several of which were stoppable. He wasnt any good, McLellan said after the game. I protect him a lot and talk about the team, but he has to be better.

In his last 11 starts, Niemi is 4-6-1 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. Hes allowed at least four goals six times, but has also recorded two shutouts. Hes 1-3-1 in his last four starts, with the one win a 5-3 victory over his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 10 -- a team which he has historically played well against and was in the midst of a nine-game losing streak.

Although Greiss took the loss against the Hurricanes, none of the three goals that Carolina scored was directly his fault. The first went in off of Dan Boyles foot; the second was an easy power play goal after good puck movement by Carolina, while the third was a deflection in the high slot.

Greiss (8-5-1, 2.13 GAA, .923 SP) has the only win on the Sharks road trip so far, too, 5-3 over the Washington Capitals on Monday. The 26-year-old German native was outstanding through most of the first two periods before a couple of misplays late, including allowing a Dmitry Orlov goal at 19:59 of the second period which he described as a bad play on my part.

A start against the Red Wings would be the biggest challenge for Greiss this season. Of his eight wins, six have come against teams not currently in the playoff picture.

Not to mention, the Red Wings have that cute little streak of 22 straight home wins.

Who would you start between the pipes on Sunday?