Antti Niemi is a Vezina Trophy candidate for the San Jose Sharks, which is rather remarkable when you consider he’s Antti Niemi.
That’s not a knock on his talent, which is considerable, or his importance to the Sharks, which was enormous. That’s to say that Antti Niemi getting credit for his goaltending prowess is a recent trend, and something we didn’t seen when he backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup.
There was a perception that the Hawks won despite him. At best, he was an anonymous netminder that was competent but unspectacular for a Blackhawks team whose stars up front and on the blueline overshadow the goalies.
Corey Crawford knows the feeling.
All Crawford has done through four games against the Minnesota Wild is lead the NHL in GAA (1.39) and save percentage (.949) while going 3-1 with a shutout.
Is he mentioned as a potential Conn Smythe candidate for the Blackhawks? Not as much as Patrick Kane, or Jonathan Toews for that matter. Is he mentioned among the elite goalies in the 2013 postseason thus far? He’s probably been mentioned less than Niemi, Braden Holtby and Craig Anderson.
Part of this is having something to prove: Like that he can win a playoff series, having gone 0-for-2 as a starter, including last season’s tough loss (2.58 GAA) to the Phoenix Coyotes.