Carrying three goalies a complicated situation


Carrying three goalies a complicated situation

SAN JOSE Tuesdays practice at Sharks Ice was a good example of why an NHL team rarely carries three healthy goaltenders on its active roster.

Backups Thomas Greiss and Antero Niittymaki were on the ice for nearly two hours, making sure they got enough work to stay sharp. They stepped on about 30 minutes before the rest of the team joined them for an hour-long practice, and stayed a good 30 minutes after most of the regulars had already hit the showers.

Obviously, it would be nice to have a full practice, but me and Greisser got a pretty good deal of work out there, Niittymaki said.

Greiss said: We just do a little bit more extra to stay sharp.

Since Niittymaki returned from his conditioning stint in Worcester last week, rehabbing from hip surgery in September, the Sharks have little choice but to carry all three goalies. Neither Niittymaki nor Greiss is exempt from waivers, and if the Sharks decided to take their chances and send one of them down to Worcester, they would risk losing that player for nothing.

McLellan acknowledged that although hes glad to have three capable bodies at the goalie position, the circumstances are not ideal.

Its a situation thats good for our organization because of the depth that weve created. The fact that Niitty is back and healthy is a real good thing, but it also makes it difficult for them, said the coach. We have four lines, we have four pairs of defensemen, they all have to take their turns and work on their game. The goaltenders are no different, so theyll manage.

The other option is that the Sharks could be actively shopping one of their goalies. Theres speculation already that Niittymaki would be the one to get traded, as hes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season while Greiss is signed through next year at a very reasonable 587,500 cap hit.

Not to mention, Greiss has shown himself capable of handling the backup role through the first part of this year with a 4-4-0 record, 2.37 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Sharks assistant general manager Wayne Thomas, who acts essentially as the teams goalie coach on a day-to-day basis and was on the ice with Greiss and Niittymaki on Tuesday, had this to say when it was suggested that no team would carry three healthy goalies on its roster for the majority of the season:

We cant predict other teams needs, and we cant predict our needs, he said. What we try to do is just keep all three of them ready. Thats the job.

Not surprisingly, McLellan didnt want to talk much about possible player movement, as thats general manager Doug Wilsons job.

Thats a management-type scenario, not a coaching-type scenario. Well play whoever we feel we need to play to try and win a game. Thats our job, he said.

We certainly sit down as a group, the management and coaching staff, and try and map out a little bit, but its still very early in the process with Niitty being back basically for one game. Weve got a long road ahead of us before anything can happen. From our perspective, its about winning and its about putting the right people in there to win.

Would he feel comfortable putting Niittymaki in a game at this point?

Yeah, I would feel comfortable putting Niitty in a game. It would be no different than some other guys coming back from their injuries.

Nitty has worked extremely hard and recovered very well from his surgery. I know that he feels good physically, and has a sparkle in his eye a little bit and is excited about being on the ice. And, hes an NHL goaltender.

When that happens is anyones guess. The Sharks will play one more game on Wednesday night before four days off, and being that its against the high powered Vancouver Canucks, its a good bet that starter Antti Niemi will make his 15th start in 16 games.

But, Niittymaki is anxious to return.

Its always nice to play. When thats going to be, I dont know, he said. I dont know anything about anything. But yeah, it would be nice to get in there sooner than later, I guess.

Sharks recall trio as bye week concludes

Sharks recall trio as bye week concludes

VANCOUVER – Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow and Tim Heed have accompanied the Sharks to Vancouver, and will presumably be available to play against the Canucks on Saturday in the first game after the bye week.

Forwards Timo Meier, Nikolay Goldobin and Marcus Sorensen, all of whom have played games with the NHL club this season, remain with the AHL Barracuda for the time being.

Labanc, 21, has 18 points (7g, 11a) in 45 games this season. Lately he has been skating as the left wing on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, and is looking to snap a 21-game goal drought.

Goodrow, 23, has played one game with the Sharks this season, going scoreless on Jan. 24 at Winnipeg. Unless the Sharks recall someone else before their game with the Canucks, Goodrow will likely play his second game as the team is carrying just 12 healthy forwards as of Friday afternoon. Joonas Donskoi did not accompany the Sharks to Vancouver, and remains day-to-day with what the club is offically calling an upper body injury but appears to be a right shoulder.

Heed, likely the seventh defenseman in case of emergency, has also played one scoreless game on Jan. 11 at Calgary.

Dylan DeMelo made the trip, but is still not ready. The defenseman told CSN last week that he’s on schedule with an eight-week recovery from a broken right wrist that would put his return around early March.

Canucks battling mumps ahead of meeting with Sharks

Canucks battling mumps ahead of meeting with Sharks

Several Vancouver Canucks are battling an outbreak of the mumps ahead of a game on Saturday with the Sharks at Rogers Arena.

At least five players are expected to miss the game. Troy Stecher is the only player with a confirmed test result, general manager Jim Benning said in a statement, but Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Mike Chaput and Markus Granlund “have each presented symptoms.”

Players with symptoms are “immediately being tested and quarantined in isolation for a five-day period from the onset of symptoms or until test results prove negative.”

Vancouver Coastal Health authorities were on hand at Rogers Arena on Friday to screen players and staff, and issue immunizations if necessary.

The Sharks and Canucks will both be coming off of their bye week when they play for the second of five times this season.