Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
Updated 2:57 PM
By Tracey Myers
SAN JOSE, Calif. Antti Niemi said Monday he wanted to play against the Chicago Blackhawks. Now hell get his chance.
Niemi will be the San Jose starter when the Sharks host the Blackhawks here tonight. For Niemi, its not so much besting the old team as it is just getting the Sharks back on track.
Im not trying not to think about the game too much like its too special, he said following morning skate. Its another game and we need to get wins.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan talked of when Antero Nittymaki got the start against his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Nov. 6. He liked Nittymakis response, as well as the Sharks, in that 5-2 victory. He added that a solid outing tonight could be big for Niemi moving forward.
Thats the team to beat, theyre the ones with the rings on their fingers. So if he can have a solid game against a good team it can help, McLellan said. If it doesnt happen that way, hes been very resilient. The upsides much greater than the downside, and that went into the decision as well.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are ready to face their former netminder.
Im not going to tell you guys, but I think I know what Ill shoot, Patrick Kane said of his shot selection. But Kane knows facing Niemi wont be easy.
He has unbelievable lateral movement. If you move him side to side have to pick it up. Hes one of the best Ive ever seen with that. He did a lot of good things for us.
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said he had dinner with Niemi on Tuesday night and joked that he tried to get into his head.
I know hes a competitive guy and always gives 100 percent out there, he said. Im sure hes going to have a good game tonight and were going to have to be on top of our game to score on him.
Hjalmarsson said he doesnt think about what couldve been with the San Jose Sharks, who gave him a four-year, 14-million offer sheet in July.
I thought about that then, but once the season started, not really, he said.
Marty Turco will get the start tonight in net.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.