Of course part of the chat had to do with Leighton.
It took me a minute to figure out what “it” was. It’s the all time record for shutouts in the AHL, 45. I hope he does it too.
But god how frustrating. Last night after the Sharks game, I had a little Twitter chat (I know, that’s an abuse of Twitter, you’re not supposed to use it like a chat program but wth) about goalies with @DownGoesSpezza and @chrissampang. We talked about Nabby and Greiss and Nemo and little about Leights too. It was interesting, and I imagine completely impossible to follow for third parties, because -hello- Twitter isn’t a chat program or a message board. Oh well.
What @Phillygirl said there about Leighton being the king of the AHL, but struggling in the NHL, I think that is a fair assessment but I don’t believe it is entirely a function of skill or talent. I believe that, in terms of ability, there are several goalies playing in the NHL right now who are not as good as Leighton. They are not coveted starters, but I believe he could outplay them at this time. Emery, for example. Or LaBarbera. Quite possibly Ellis, and the way he has started, Roloson too. And that’s without being at the top of his game.
But being better than those guys are right now is no great feat. How frustrating to be stuck on the cusp the way he is, for whatever reason. So much better than the competition in one league that it is almost laughable, but not playing quite well enough to secure a steady gig in the league above.
But see, that is proof positive that it’s in his head. That situation is just crazy. He is clearly so comfortable playing in the AHL, the pressure is so much less, that he simply doesn’t fret about it. I bet he actually plays a lot better in the AHL than he does in the NHL, but I haven’t been able to see so I don’t know. Frustrating, there just is no other word.
We also discussed Niemi a little. I don’t know what I expect from Niemi, but I am convinced I have seen him look a lot better than he does now. @DownGoesSpezza said it is rust. My understanding of rust is that it affects your reactions, clouds your vision of the game, messes with your instincts. Sure, I can see that. I can see how that would make him move by lifting a leg and allowing the five hole goal instead of keeping his pads on the ice. That all makes sense, it does.
And I can see how all that would hurt his confidence (though not in any way he can’t recover from, I think he will probably be better tonight) and how that would make him slump over too much as is his habit when he forgets not too. But I don’t see how that would impair the flexibility of his legs. He just looks tight and tentative in the way he moves into and out of the butterfly, and he simply doesn’t stretch like I know he can… or could, early last year.
I also remember that when he was using his legs in that way that made me say “ouch!”, he was oversliding a lot too. He’d go sliding right out of the crease leaving an open net behind. Clearly he could not control his movements as well when he did that. But surely some compromise between the two could be found, couldn’t it? He is not quick like a cat the way Greiss is, he cannot rely on moving his whole body where he needs to go. There was one save he made last night that employed his length of leg advantage, pointed out by Justin Bourne:
So he can do that. His bounce back in the shootout, and the game for that matter, shows me that he still has it, that mental fortitude I think is so cool, to work through it. He just doesn’t seem as smooth or stretchy as he was. Maybe he just isn’t. Maybe that stupid cyst removal really limited his ability to stretch and so he does need a while to limber up. I hope that’s all it is. I would hate to think some nitwit has coached the bendy out of him. For a guy who is as stout as Niemi is, he needs all the limber he can get his hands on. I hope he’s working on it.
And Greiss. How very interesting he is now. He is completely different from Niemi, I can imagine playing in front of them could be confusing for the team. But Greiss’s composure and quickness is very impressive, especially for someone with such a topsy-turvvy career so far. The devil on my shoulder tells me the Sharks will not play him much, will work Nemo to death. The angel says no, surely they saw how well he played for them, they will start him tonight! as with all things, the truth is probably somewhere between the two.
This just in:
Sigh. Oh well, what do I expect? Tim Thomas is at the other end, I don’t think either of our goalies is up to playing him. He hasn’t had a very good start this season but still. It’s Timmy. I guess there’s no reason not to give Nemo the game prep he needs, as long as the Sharks can’t beat the Bruins in the goalie department.