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Kari Lehtonen's big night gives Stars hope

Mar 17, 2010, 1:30 AM EDT

Before I came to Pro Hockey Talk, I covered the Dallas Stars on a
daily basis for Defending Big D. When the Stars traded for Kari
Lehtonen, I sat down to watch nearly every game Lehtonen played in last
spring, before his back injury knocked him out of the NHL for nearly a
year. It was obvious that it was going to take some time for him to get
back to full form and when he did, there’s a chance he could be an elite
goaltender. All of the tools are there; he just needs the work ethic
and desire to go along with his talent.

Last night against the San Jose Sharks, Lehtonen proved that he still
has the ability to be a great goaltender. Stopping 45-of-47 shots, most
of them of the outstanding and incredible variety, he gave his team the
opportunity to get off to better starts than the Stars have seen in the
past few weeks.

Has he answered the Stars’ goaltending prayers
with just one game? Doubtful. But he’s certainly given Joe Nieuwendyk a
much better feeling than I’m sure he had after Lehtonen’s shaky
performance against Pittsburgh. Says Lehtonen (per
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News
) –

(On
how his back feels)

“It’s the best it’s been. I don’t know if
it’s 100-percent. I think
it needs a few more games, but it was a huge step in the right
direction, and it was nice to see that I’m able to play at this level
again.”

(On knowing he was going to get the start)

“The
whole day is totally different when you know you’re going to
play. I think the first game in Pittsburgh
I was a little bit too excited, and it ended up going pretty
badly. I was able to be more calm in net, and that really works for me
best. I think I gave some rebounds that I wasn’t happy about, but it was
great to see our guys battling for those and [San Jose] didn’t have a
lot of second chances.”

The Stars are back in the
playoff hunt — sort of — after their shocking 8-2 win over San Jose.
Should they continue to ride Lehtonen, especially after such a
confidence-building game?

  1. Metsys - Mar 17, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    http://www.sportsclubstats.com/NHL/Western/Pacific/Stars_ChanceWillMakePlayoffs.html
    We have a 1.82% chance of making it! Woo hoo!

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