Antti Niemi to Start Tuesday, Playoffs Game One?

March 22nd, 2010 by TAB BAMFORD Leave a reply »
On Monday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville named rookie Antti Niemi the starter for Tuesday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

It will be Niemi's fourth start in five games for the Hawks; the Hawks have only won once in the previous three starts.

Does this mean Quenneville has officially moved Niemi to the top of the depth chart?

Cristobal Huet had been out with the flu but has returned to skating with the team, and Corey Crawford has since been reassigned to Rockford.

Since Huet was pulled against Detroit on March 7, Niemi has drawn almost every start against a potential playoff team; Huet started the front half of a back-to-back in Philadelphia, but Niemi has started against Washington, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. In those three starts, Niemi has a .902 save percentage, including a shutout of the Kings.

In his last start in Phoenix, Niemi faced 35 shots. The shot totals the Hawks netminders have been fighting off has been a disturbing trend over the past couple weeks, even before the injuries started to hit the Hawks' blue-line depth. For the season, the Blackhawks are allowing the fewest shots to reach their goal ...

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