San Jose Sharks Lose to Blue Jackets, Antti Niemi's Struggles Continue

David BarclayCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2012

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 08:  Goaltenter Antti Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks makes a glove-hand save against the Calgary Flames at HP Pavilion at San Jose on February 8, 2012 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks, on their longest road trip of the season, made a stop in Columbus Tuesday night to face the Blue Jackets.

Whether the Sharks left their game faces at the hotel, whether the roster was caught up in all the Rick Nash trade rumors, the bottom line is the Sharks fell 6-3 to the Blue Jackets, bringing their record on this road trip to 1-4-1.

What's more important to note is goaltender Antti Niemi's performance, or lack thereof.

Niemi was pulled at 15:18 in the first period, after allowing three goals on 11 shots.

Joe Thornton and Logan Couture tallied goals early in the second as the Sharks attempted to make a comeback, but a hat-trick registered by Jeff Carter allowed this game to railroad out of control very quickly.

But what's alarming is Niemi's ever-so-staggering abilities in the paint. Sure, backup Thomas Greiss allowed just as many goals as Niemi, but the backups face far less scrutiny.

I know the Sharks didn't provide Niemi—or Greiss for that matter—much support on Tuesday night. They were sloppy over the puck and played with virtually no discipline. And that's the biggest problem at the moment.

Niemi's issues in net can be fixed, but at this point I think it will take a joint effort that stretches all the way to the front office. Sharks fans expected nothing but great things when GM Doug Wilson stacked his roster with veteran and young stars in the offseason. Well, the team needs another shakeup, and they need it now.

For now, I'm done speculating as to why Niemi has been playing as poorly as he has. Anyone that plays a professional sport will go through a slump. Better that it happens now, than in the post-season.

But Doug Wilson, please get on the phone.


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