Edit: Can't remember, was Malhotra basically his PK replacement in 2009-10?
Effectively, he was the Grier replacement. Malhotra's numbers on PK were bad and would have been worse except for his faceoff ability. Grier was no great shakes in the numbers, but his team effect was dramatic. IMO, he had probably lost a step at the time, but what he taught others was likely the key. I don't know that he was given full responsibility for team PK, but it was pretty obvious that he was in the conversation for strategy and advice. Prior to Grier, you had to go back to some of the Ricci years to find a Sharks team that had a good PK. And Ricci had some bad years.
Working from inference, RW had a horrid PK in Toronto with virtually the same staff. Grier joined the Sharks under Wilson. It wasn't the coaching that gave the PK a facelift.
Part of the PK issue is Nemo himself. Rebound control and some reading of the play.
Historically, Greiss needs about a week to get in the groove. He can carry the groove for a couple of months. Our best look in SJ was the start of the season where he was pretty good. One issue that you didn't cover is that he is a bit less than thorough about covering the five-hole when going across. Nemo covers the hole when he is on but is incredibly slow.
I agree about what it will take for Greiss to take the #1 spot. I give Nemo a slight edge because of Greiss' repeated brain cramps if Nemo is on his game. If Nemo is a bit less than his best, I'd go with Greiss. In the long run, I think that Greiss will be far better technically and he is far more athletic.
Maybe it would be good to start Greiss in a few unexpected games just so the Blues can't strategize as well. You know they wanna take advantage of Niemi's side to side failures.... but will have a hard time figuring out how to against the Sharks D if Greiss is in there from time to time. Less time to figure it out basically.
Seriously I've been pulling for Niemi since we got him but ... he's just sucked so much lately. That last game in LA being the final straw for me. He was god awful and in a very big game. It makes you very uncomfortable going into the playoffs. Greiss has been good all year and in spot duty which is very difficult to do. He seems mentally stable and can play the puck better than Nemo.
I thought no one can be worse than Nabby at playing the puck, but Nemo has proved me wrong. My friends and I have a running joke about how Nemo always makes the wrong play when he has time with the puck. Always! 100% always wrong. If he would only improve in this area, it can avoid a sequence where the Sharks D has to be playing in their own zone. Griess does indeed make nifty plays with the puck that Nemo is absolutely incapable of doing.
I thought no one can be worse than Nabby at playing the puck, but Nemo has proved me wrong.
Nabokov wasn't really that bad at playing the puck. Actually he was fairly good at it. Not anywhere near to the level of Turco or Brodeur, but he was pretty skilled at it.
Nabokov's bigger stickhandling problem was that, since he was good enough to play the puck, he'd try to do it too often and then try to do too much with it. He'd come out and try to make skilled plays that he was good enough to make, but he'd do it in too many dangerous situations where it wasn't the right or safe play. Nabokov's skill wasn't the issue, it was his judgment.
Naturally, the more a goaltender plays the puck, the more likely they are to have turnovers and bad goals against. We all remember a few gifts from Marty Turco over the years. The more you stickhandle, the more you expose yourself to mistakes. It's that simple. The difference is that, whereas Turco's exceptional skill more than made up for the few flubs that ended up in the back of his net, Nabby's good stickhandling was almost completely neutralized by the ill-advised turnovers.
Interestingly, some of the worst stickhandling goaltenders make the fewest mistakes. Those who know they suck at stickhandling know to keep their padded rears in the crease where they belong and thus don't give up many empty netters. When they do play the puck, they usually do alright, mostly in safe situations, don't take many risky chances, and if/when they do it's a situation where they almost had to and where not playing the puck was equally or more dangerous.
Niemi actually doesn't do too badly in this regard. He stays in his net most of the time. With the one exception of that awkward carom off the boards a few months back, he really doesn't give up many empty-netters while wandering outside the crease. He doesn't always make the best decisions with the puck nor the crispest passes, but even those turnovers are into traffic along the corner boards rather than into the slot or to an open forechecker. He makes some mistakes and provides only a minor benefit with his stick play, but he also doesn't make many mistakes and the ones he does usually aren't too egregious. (And let's be honest....with the way our defense has played, even if Niemi leaves the puck completely alone, it's still probably getting turned over at some point.)
That backhander that he almost put into his own net wasn't the sharpest play and it shows his limited ability with the stick, but he did prevent the opposing forward from getting to it first all alone with time and space. And given that he was faced with a strong forecheck attack and no defensive support......the bottom line is that it worked. It wasn't pretty, but it worked well enough.
The worst Shark goaltender for my money was Irbe. Now there was a guy who not only couldn't play the puck, he didn't know enough to know that he sucked and should stay in the net at all times.