Are San Jose Sharks just teasing us again? 

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
9:53
AM ET


Antti NiemiDon Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesAntti Niemi's excellent play has been a constance for the Sharks this season.
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was analyzing the game of his own goalie Brian Elliott, but he could have been speaking for any number of NHL goalies. Part of the reason, Hitchcock explained, that Elliott has taken so long to regain his form from last season is that he missed the high-level instruction and preparation that comes during a normal NHL season. The long stretch of time away from the NHL and its structured practices and the lack of a real training camp resulted in a slow start for many goalies who didn't get an opportunity to sharpen their game in Europe.

Some, like Elliott, are just now rounding into form.