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The Sharks are leaning heavily on goalie Antti Niemi.
Last season, San Jose relied on goalie Antti Niemi, and the Finnish netminder didn't disappoint. He started 43 of the club's 48 games in the lockout-shortened season and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie.
It is easier to ride a goalie in a shorter season than it is over the course of a full 82-game campaign. If you pro-rate last year's statistics over a full season, he would start 73 games, a tall order for any player, especially in a season compressed a bit by the Olympic break in February.
The backup goalie this season is Alex Stalock, a rookie who has appeared in three career NHL games at the age of 26.
The Sharks would be in trouble if Niemi is injured for an extended time or if his performance falls off significantly. Who knows, maybe Stalock becomes the next great NHL goalie if he is pressed into a starting role, but the odds are against it.
The bottom line is that the Sharks are counting on Niemi to help them reach the promised land this season. With him at the top of his game, they have a chance. Without strong play from their goalie, it could be a long year at the "Shark Tank."