I was so mad at the Niemi tonight, because he basically gave that game away in the first ten minutes. People might quibble on how responsible he was, but I think he was at least partially to blame on all three.
- Shot through traffic with a deflection, but he had a pretty narrow butterfly. A 6’2 butterfly goaltenter should be able to cover the bottom of the net when he goes down, and he didn’t. This was his ‘best’ goal.
- Clifford’s goal came because Niemi couldn’t catch the damn biscuit, and left it 2 feet outside of the crease for him to clean up.
- Penner’s goal was just an outside shot with Niemi too deep.
I knew once the Kings were up 3-0 they wouldn’t make the same mistakes they made in game 3, and sure enough, they sat on it, played the 1-2-2, got two and three guys in the shooting lanes, and pulled it out. But the real story of the night was Jonathan Quick, who made 52 saves, only giving up one goal. I was thinking to myself, how often does a Sharks goalie put up a line like that?
So I decided to invent a new stat, called the Goalie Steal. A goalie steal is when the goaltender gives up 1 goal or less while making 35 or more saves. 35 isn’t particularly significant, but I had to put a cutoff point somewhere. 31 or 32 saves just doesn’t sound that impressive, and somehow, 36 does. I went back and looked at the box score for every playoff game the Sharks have participated in since the lockout. Here are the goalie steals:
Notice anything missing about this list? Yep, not a single Sharks goaltender has posted a Goalie Steal since the lockout. Nabby had a 34 save shutout in 2007, so maybe I should give him a freebie. But anyway, the point is the same- there hasn’t been a dominating goalie performance in the playoffs in a very very long time.
I admit this does certainly have something to do with the Sharks D- if they don’t give up a lot of shots, then the goalie doesn’t have the opportunity to steal a game. That’s frankly true for most games- the Sharks haven’t given up 35 or more shots in too many playoff games. But in every damn one of those games, they had to score 3 goals (the ‘magic number’) or more to win, or lost it.