Todd McLellan not ready to name obvious starter Antti Niemi as starter vs. Kings

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 12: Goaltender Antti Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks looks down ice during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on April 12, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. The Sharks defeated the Coyotes 3-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Alex Stalock has been pretty good for the San Jose Sharks this season, going 12-5-2 with a .932 save percentage and a 1.87 GAA in 24 appearances. He’s been really good in three of his last four starts, giving up only one goal in them.

Of course the most important number for Stalock is “zero,” as in the number of Stanley Cup Playoff games he’s appeared in.

So why is Todd McLellan playing coy with his starter against the Los Angeles Kings in Round 1?

From CSN Bay Area:

Q: Are you ready to name your starting goalie?
TM: "Yep."
Q: Who is that?
TM: "I’m ready to name him, I’m just not going to name him right now.”
Q: Will you wait until Thursday?
TM: “He will know he is starting.”
Q: Does he know yet?
TM: "You guys are going to run in there and interrogate him. I’m a step ahead of you.”
Q: When you tell him, will you swear him to secrecy?
TM: “Maybe we’ll double cross you, too. Who knows?”

McLellan’s been playing coy for a bit, refusing to say Antti Niemi would be his starter after he was pulled against the Ducks. Which one supposes is the reason the act continues: Keep the fire lit under Niemi, and at least have him understand that there’s a shorter leash than he might imagine with a playoff rookie playing behind him.

But the idea that Niemi won’t start Game 1 is hard to swallow, even if he was 2-1-1 with a .910 save percentage against them this season. He was outstanding last postseason with a .930 save percentage.