Stalock making case to be Sharks' playoff starter

Stalock making case to be Sharks' playoff starter
April 12, 2014, 9:30 am
Share This Post

Alex Stalock is 12-5-2 with a .932 save percentage and 1.87 goals against average in 24 games this year. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Coyotes coverage begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California Plus (Territory restrictions apply) Channel locations

SAN JOSE -- It’s uncertain if the Sharks’ coaching staff has decided which goalie will be between the pipes for Game 1 of the postseason. Even if it has, it’s possible that information won’t become available until the morning of the first game, whenever that may be next week against Los Angeles.

If there is still a debate behind closed doors, though, Alex Stalock put another check mark in his column on Friday against Colorado. Other than Marty Havlat’s four-point night, Stalock’s performance stood out in the 5-1 win over the Avalanche. He finished with 32 saves, several of them difficult, in recoding his 12th win. For the season, Stalock is now 12-5-2 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

[RECAP: Sharks 5, Avalanche 1]

I asked Stalock what it would mean to him to get the call for Game 1.

“Obviously, it’s [Todd McLellan’s] decision. We know who we’re playing, and we’ll see what happens. But, you get a chance to go in and play, the ultimate goal is to get a win every game in the playoffs. Nothing else really matters, other than coming away with a win.”

Did Stalock’s performance against Colorado make a statement to the coaching staff?

“Well, he didn’t make a statement tonight, he’s made it all year,” McLellan said. “Tonight, he just added to it. He made some very good saves. One thing that he is, is he’s so good with the puck that he helps our d-men out a lot. He’s capable of moving it up. A very good night for him, again.”

Stalock reminded that he hasn’t seen any playoff action since his first season in Worcester in 2009-10.

“It’ll fun to be back in them, and be in the atmosphere again and take it up another level, that’s for sure,” Stalock said.

The 26-year-old was playing against Colorado for the second time in the last two weeks. On March 29, he allowed a short side goal to Paul Stastny early in the game, and also let Cody McLeod -- not known for his goal-scoring -- to convert on a shorthanded breakaway in a 3-2 loss.

There were no questionable goals against Stalock on Friday night, though. Among his best saves were a denial of P.A. Parenteau on a late second period breakaway when the forward stepped out of the penalty box, and a stoning of Erik Johnson with seven and a half minutes to go in regulation, when the offensive defenseman was left alone in front of the net.

“Last time against them it wasn’t the greatest outing, and I needed to have a bounce back (game),” Stalock said. "It was good to see them again, they were fresh in my mind. It was a good team to come back and get a chance to play against.”

Dan Boyle was among the impressed.

“Al played real well. He’s played real well all year,” Boyle said. “He’s handling the puck real well and helping us D out, and seeing the puck. Just a very good goalie.”

Antti Niemi is expected to start in the Sharks’ season finale on Saturday in Phoenix. It’s an important game for him, as he was pulled in his last outing after allowing three questionable goals in Anaheim on Wednesday.

If he falters again, or even if he doesn't, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Stalock tabbed as the starter against the Kings.

“We think we have two goaltenders who can play,” McLellan said. “We’ll be prepared to use both of them if we need to.”