If past performance is indicative of future results, and we have at no point in the history of performance-to-result comparison been given any reason to find that this is not the case, then Antti Niemi is going to concede roughly 213 goals on 214 shots in the next game and Chicago will lose and therefore it will be all Niemi’s fault.
Hell they talked about it at length on Versus tonight so it must be true.
Antti Niemi was perfectly good tonight, making 24 saves on 26 shots and doing more or less exactly what the Blackhawks needed to pull out a win that evened up the series at one game apiece.
But after Saturday night’s unmitigated debacle people went looking for patterns and found an easy one: “Antti Niemi has never played well in back-to-back games and therefore will never do so!”
The storyline, based entirely upon the whopping seven-game sample size of this postseason, is that if he has an off night, he will always follow it up with an electrifying performance. Case in point: he gave up two goals on 24 shots and lost the first game of the playoffs, then gave up none on 23 and won!
Wait what? THAT’S the irrefutable evidence?
Okay so those first two games didn’t work out in that frame, but the next three sure did. Four on 35, none on 33, four on 21. (That last one was actually in a win.) But he played like garbage in that last game and then the two after that, posting save percentages below .900 in each, but only losing the last one.
It’s like the Blackhawks are the kind of team that can win if a) the team shows up, which it didn’t in all three of its playoff losses so far, and b) the goaltending is even remotely good. And now Niemi was serviceable tonight and that was all Chicago needed. Go figure.
An NHL starter that is even somewhat above average is plenty for a Chicago side that gives a full team effort, which it did tonight. All this talk of WHAT IF NIEMI CONTINUES TO POST .812 SAVE PERCENTAGES FOREVER doesn’t matter.
He could give up at least as many goals on a smaller number of shots as he did on Saturday and pick up an easy 6-5 W. If Chicago doesn’t play like a bunch of morons.
Which isn’t a guarantee these days.
Boston 3, Philadelphia 2
Man, I thought a 52-year-old reclamation project goaltender that couldn’t secure a starting spot until every other goaltender in the Flyers system was diagnosed with a fatal blood disorder has an .890-something save percentage has backstopped his team to an 0-2 deficit against one of the best defensive clubs in hockey. WHAT IS IT WITH THESE PERFORMANCES!? I literally cannot believe it.