Blackhawks to start Niemi versus Stars
Niemi broke the Hawks' three-game losing streak Saturday in St. Louis with a 34-save performance. The Hawks won 2-1 as the Blues managed only a 5-on-3 power-play goal late in the contest.
In the only other time Niemi started back-to-back games, he was pulled after the first period after giving up three goals to the Vancouver Canucks. He's happy to get another shot.
"I just have to make sure it [getting pulled] doesn't happen again," Niemi said after Monday's practice.
Cristobal Huet was in net during the three-game slide, and as has been the case whenever Niemi has earned extra playing time, he understands Quenneville's decision.
"The end result the last three games [wasn't good]," Huet said. "I can only blame myself for not getting the job done. I didn't get any bounces, but I felt pretty good those games to give the team a chance but it didn't happen."
Huet was asked if it was upsetting he won't be starting on Tuesday.
"No it's not upsetting," he said. "It's the way it is. I didn't get the job done. Antti did a good job in St. Louis, so yeah, I understand."
Niemi was coming off a bout with the flu on Saturday when he earned his 14th win of the year against five losses. The flu prevented him from playing in a scheduled start last Wednesday, which meant he hadn't played in two weeks. It didn't affect him. In fact, he was happy he was tested early in Saturday's game.
"Coming from being a little sick and losing the game in Vancouver, it was great to get a couple shots early," Niemi said. "I don't know if you get used to not playing for two weeks, but it hasn't bothered me too much. I try not to think about it too much."
One reason Niemi could be starting is the matchup on Tuesday. Huet has lost twice to the Stars this season and was pulled in one those contests. It remains to be seen if a changing of the guard in net could occur after the Olympic break.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com.