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Chicago Blackhawks have little choice beyond Niemi

Antti Niemi

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi, of Finland, stands in front of the goal as St. Louis Blues congratulate teammate Alexander Steen on his second goal of the NHL hockey game, during the third period Tuesday, March 30, 2010, in St. Louis. Steen also scored in the first period to help the Blues to a 4-2 victory. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)


Unfortunately for the Chicago Blackhawks, debating which goalie they should hand the reins to isn’t the solid versus great discussion that Boston finds itself in. Instead, it might be closer to picking your poison. Still, it’s quite clear that Cristobal Huet’s confidence has been shattered by a rough season. Antti Niemi - while by no means being a rock for the Hawks - is at least able to given Chicago good starts. His problem is either consistency or simply being an average goalie.

Perhaps it doesn’t take a goalie coach, rocket scientist or some other expert to point out that the Blackhawks need to suck it up and accept that they’re going to have to live with what Niemi can give them. Huet, frankly, is done. Here’s a look at the goalies’ seasons, with a focus on their full season stats along with their performance during the last 10 games. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Image (1) niemivhuet-thumb-250x187-8310.png for post 615

My general rule is that a goalie under 90% save percentage officially hits the “hurting his team” mark while 91% can be considered solid if unspectacular. As you can see, Huet is under the 90 percent mark for the season and has been rattled with 14 goals in his last three starts. For Niemi, it seems to be feast or famine, with three shutouts in his last 10 starts but also his fair share of struggles.

People forget that it’s natural for powerful offensive teams to sometimes give up more opportunities due to their aggressiveness, so the Blackhawks do not necessarily need the next coming of Patrick Roy to compete for the Cup. Instead, they need to hope that their goalie is closer to a Grant Fuhr or a Tom Barrasso.

My guess is that Niemi has the best chance to do that.