Sometimes, you are the hero. Sometimes you are the goat.
And while it would be unfair to blame Antti Niemi for the San Jose Sharks' 2-1 loss in Boston Thursday night, he is certainly the last line of defense for the team -- and when that team gives up the game-winning goal with less than one second left in the third period ... well, we're looking at you, Niemi.
Yes, the Sharks defensemen should have been able to get a body on the Bruins' David Krejci in front of the net in that game situation, definitely. But Niemi saw only 17 shots on goal all night, so he needed to be a little bit more focused on what was going on in front of him right there at the end of the game.
When you outshoot the opponent 39-17 and still lose, there are two things you know: first, the opposing goaltender had a hell of a game, and you can live with that. But second, your goaltender didn't have a very good game, and that's harder to swallow -- especially after Niemi's awesome effort in Detroit on Monday evening.
Niemi has started all ten Sharks games this year, and coming into tonight's action, he'd posted a 1.64 GAA and a .930 save percentage: excellent numbers for the NHL's wins leader.
But San Jose's goaltender hasn't been seeing a lot of shots on net this year -- in fact, Niemi has been looking at just 23.2 pucks a game, making every goal he gives up seem a lot bigger simply due to the smaller number of shots he's facing.
So if the second Boston goal tonight happens in the middle of the third period, perhaps there's a different reaction to its occurrence.
It gets magnified due to the timing of the goal at the end of the game tonight, for sure, but that's the life of an NHL goalie: you get the glory when you win, and when you lose it's time to shoulder that responsibility.
All in all, however, the Sharks aren't going to fret about this loss -- playing the defending Eastern Conference champions on their home ice and losing late in regulation is nothing to be disappointed with at this point in the season.
San Jose's 8-1-1 record is still pretty good, all things considered.