Chicago Blackhawks To Face Another Old Friend With New Troubles

Mikal ElyseCorrespondent INovember 23, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 21:  Goaltender Antti Niemi #31 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a save on a shot by Dany Heatley #15 of the San Jose Sharks in the third period of Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Antti Niemi will eternally be a piece of history; not only to Chicago, but to his native country for being the first Finnish goalie to win the Stanley Cup.

In Chicago, he helped bring the Cup home after a 49-year drought.  He was also part of the Blackhawks exasperating summer which allowed him to become an Unrestricted Free Agent.

In early September, the San Jose Sharks signed Niemi to a one-year contract.

The Blackhawks swept the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals this past May, starting what some may call the creation of a rivalry.

Building more intensity, Doug Wilson approached Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, and eventually signed Niemi.  Let’s just say Blackhawks’ fans had a bitter sweet summer, and Doug Wilson was the bitter end of it.

Sadly Niemi has not been able to produce at the same caliber as last season, posting 2-4-1/3.91 GAA thus far. 

Of course, Niemi already has stated his hopes of winning Wednesday night against his former team.

Yet, his confidence level seems to be plummeting after each game he is in the net for the Sharks.

This can play to an advantage for the Blackhawks, who have been like a rollercoaster to watch so far this season. 

Both teams are having their struggles in different areas, which will make the game quite interesting. 

If the Blackhawks can work collectively, as they did in Vancouver and Edmonton, I think we can all easily figure out the winner of the game, but how many times can the Blackhawks be so fortunate?  If Niemi can achieve self-confidence to beat his former team who left him behind, well there is the winner as well.

It should be a battle of the goalies and defense out there, which comes out on top, is still unknown.

Mikal Elyse is a Featured Columnist and Co-owner of!