Sharks backup goaltender Alex Stalock has proven to be a solid option for nights when Antti Niemi needs a rest.
San Jose Sharks goaltenders have faced over 800 shots through the first 32 games of the 2013-14 season. That number may seem high, but it’s actually good for sixth best in the league.
While San Jose’s offense tends to garner the majority of the accolades, starter Antti Niemi and backup Alex Stalock have quietly put together some tremendous performances, featuring quite a few dynamic saves.
In choosing the top five saves by San Jose goaltenders, the following criteria was utilized:
- Personnel—A Sharks goaltender must have made the save—you’ll find no sliding defenseman on this list, which, by definition makes all five selections “saves” rather than blocked shots.
- Timeliness—Did the save preserve a tight lead or keep a game within reach.
- Jawdropability—Did the save leave you picking up your jaw off the floor.
- Rebounds—Was there a supplemental shot (or shots) that required additional saves.
With that, here are the top five San Jose Sharks saves of the 2013-14 season so far.
Despite a 25-9 shot advantage, the Sharks found themselves deadlocked at zero with the Boston Bruins late in the second period. A bad pinch by Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart quickly transitioned into a Boston two-on-one.
Antti Niemi’s resulting right-to-left save off Patrice Bergeron’s one-timer kept Boston off the board and served as a crucial moment for a Sharks team that struggled to score goals on its first Eastern Conference road trip.
After a winless three-game homestand, the Sharks set out for a tour across western Canada. The first stop called for a stop in Winnipeg.
With the Sharks up 3-2 late in the second period, the Jets' Evander Kane made a hard charge to the net and set up a rare, juicy rebound opportunity for Olli Jokinen.
Whether Antti Niemi knew about the follow-up opportunity may never be known, but even complete incapacitation could not prevent Niemi from making a save to temporarily preserve San Jose’s one-goal lead.
The save loses a little on the "jawdropability" scale for its apparent inadvertence, but it would be remiss to ignore the strong initial save and the exciting follow-up that had Jokinen literally holstering his stick in disbelief.
San Jose’s initial meeting with the Blues in St. Louis set the stage for a doozy of a rematch on Black Friday in San Jose.
The Sharks wasted no time jumping all over the Blues, scoring two goals in the first three minutes on the way to building a 4-0 lead, via a 12-2 shot advantage after the first period.
The Blues came out with new resolve in the second, feverishly attacking the Sharks net and leading to this full-extension, post-to-post save on the Blues’ T.J. Oshie.
While the Sharks had mounted a significant lead, making the timeliness of this save less significant than others on the list, a first save after an uneventful first period, combined with the full-pad extension, still makes this stop a legitimate jawdropper.
Who says backups cannot produce highlight-reel saves? In terms of regulation saves (spoiler alert), top billing goes to San Jose backup goaltender Alex Stalock.
No, you’re not experiencing deja vu, this save is eerily similar to Antti Niemi’s save on T.J. Oshie.
After blown defensive coverage, Stalock went full extension to rob Carolina’s Nathan Gerbe midway through the first period to preserve San Jose’s 1-0 lead.
Gerbe’s spin-o-rama adds a layer of complexity and unpredictability, which makes Stalock’s quick reaction only that much more impressive.
The San Jose Sharks kicked off their first Eastern swing of the season with a trip to Joe Louis Arena to meet the Detroit Red Wings.
After a scoreless regulation and overtime period, Logan Couture scored in the second round of the shootout to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead with one shooter remaining.
Needing a goal to prolong the shootout, the Wings tapped Todd Bertuzzi to take the final shot.
Bertuzzi’s fake slap shot and deke to the forehand got Niemi to go down in the full splits, leaving the top half of the net open for the taking.
But in a desperate attempt to occupy as much net as possible while laying flat on his stomach, Niemi futilely kicked his right pad into the air.
Only Niemi’s kick proved not to be futile at all, keeping Bertuzzi's shot out of the net while giving San Jose a hard-earned road win that sent Bertuzzi searching the heavens for an explanation.
The combination of timeliness and jawdropability made this gem a no-brainer for the top of the list.
What is your favorite save? Let us know in the comments below!