Maybe the Blackhawks and Antti Niemi should have figured out a way to pay him, keep him, and stay under the salary cap. It could have benefitted both parties.
The Hawks have struggled at times under new acquisition, veteran Marty Turco, although Turco posted his first Blackhawks shutout of the season last week in Edmonton. Backup Corey Crawford had a good game Saturday night in Vancouver against the Canucks and may be in line for more playing time.
Meanwhile, Niemi, who signed a one-year deal with the Sharks after being awarded $2.75 million in arbitration, has struggled in San Jose, posting a 2-4-1 won-lost record and a 3.91 GAA, far higher than the fine 2.25 GAA he had last year with the Blackhawks during the regular season. He's been mostly benched for his countryman, Antero Niittymaki, whose GAA is almost two goals lower at 2.07.
Tonight will be the first meeting of the two teams since the Hawks swept the Sharks in the Western Conference finals last May. The Sharks are 9-6-4, but their 22 points trails the Blackhawks by only two. The Blackhawks (along with Anaheim) have played the most games in the NHL, 23 -- the Sharks have four games in hand. The Blackhawks are 2-1 on the seven-game circus trip.
Tonight's game begins at 9:30 p.m. CST and will be televised on WGN (Chicago viewers only).