Knocking out a Sharks mailbag on the two hour, two minute train ride from Montreal to Ottawa...
What are the chances Niemi is back next year? #SharksTalk (@SuperV06)
Assuming the Sharks miss the playoffs, it’s become a near certainty that Antti Niemi is playing out his final season with San Jose. He’s had his good moments, like when he was named as a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2013, and his not so good moments, like last year’s playoff round vs. Los Angeles, but it’s pretty evident that the Sharks are ready to go in a different direction in net. The 31-year-old should be able to find work elsewhere next season, perhaps as a veteran backup or a short-term starter for a team still in its formative years, but his days with the Sharks are numbered.
Just what the Sharks do with the goaltending position will be one of the biggest questions headed into the offseason, especially since Alex Stalock’s numbers have dropped off from last season.
Speaking of Stalock…
Since things seem dire, do you think they'll give Stalock some starts? (@alamedamagz)
They should. Stalock has never really been given an opportunity to show if he could be a starter in this league, although, to be fair, he hasn’t exactly earned more playing time than what he’s been given this season with a 6-7-1 record, 2.65 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
Still, Stalock’s last start came three weeks ago when he shut out the Canadiens with 20 saves on March 2, in what was his best game of the season since the home opener on Oct. 11.
Why hasn’t he started since? If you recall, reports surfaced about some of the Sharks veterans going to Doug Wilson before the trade deadline asking that he keep Niemi to let them make an attempt at a playoff run. Now that that doesn’t seem possible, it’s the perfect time to find out what the Sharks have in Stalock, and starting him on a more regular basis over the final 10 games would give them a better idea of what his long term potential truly is. That would give them more information before they make a decision this offseason.
Do the players know they basically have to win the rest of the games to have a shot at playoffs? #SharksTalk (@AndreHancois)
Logan Couture was asked that very question last night, and here was his response:
“Yeah. We really do. We’re not going to quit. We’re going to compete until the very end and see what happens then. I truly believe that we’re going to lay it on the line every night. We still believe that every night we can win in this locker room. We’ve got to go out and work as hard as we possibly can to try to.”
As I mentioned in my Rewind, the Sharks probably need to go at least 8-1-1 in their last 10 games to qualify for the postseason. Not only do they have to leapfrog two teams, they are also now tied with both Colorado and Dallas at 78 points headed into Sunday night's games.
At this point, the math from sportsclubstats.com says that the Sharks have just a 4.4 percent chance to make the playoffs. In fact, even if the Sharks somehow manage to go 8-1-1, that only gives them a 47.2 percent chance of qualifying.