Oct 22, 2011, 2:09 AM EDT
Kari Lehtonen looked great at times last season, but 2011-12 might be the year that he truly shows why he was drafted second overall in 2002. The Finnish goalie made the difference for the Dallas Stars once again Friday night, as they beat an almost-as-hot Anaheim Ducks team 3-1.
Lehtonen is 6-0 so far this season, but it’s the workload he’s carrying that really makes his results impressive. Aside from the Columbus Blue Jacket’s dismal efforts, Lehtonen has faced at least 36 shots in every start. He’s been up to the task to a staggering degree, though, allowing just nine goals.
Naturally, the burning question is whether he can keep it up. He has the pedigree to do so, but two worrisome factors cannot be ignored.
Stars fans might grumble at this one, but there was a time when Lehtonen was the Southeast Rick DiPietro: a highly drafted and occasionally promising goalie whose career was riddled with injuries. He was limited to 12 games in 2009-10 and less than 50 in 08-09 and 07-08. Hopefully Lehtonen is over those woes, but the injury risks are legitimate if he continues to face 35+ shots per night and flirts with 70 starts.
Sheldon Souray has been an amazing story so far. He went from a guy whose contract left him buried in the AHL to a solid offensive contributor out of the gate (five points in seven games).
Souray doesn’t heal many own-zone wounds, though. Lehtonen’s dazzling .957 save percentage is bound to drop, so Dallas’ D needs to tighten up. They might not have the personnel to do that, though.
There are a number of factors working against Lehtonen and the Stars, but his talent shouldn’t be denied. We’ll see if that’s enough to clear some serious hurdles this season.
- Panthers owners say they’re committed even though team has lost ‘tremendous amounts of money’ 3
- Update: Wild’s Harding out indefinitely with fractured foot 17
- Johansen heads home from Columbus as talks get even messier 14
- Kesler accuses Vancouver media of making up stories, ‘throwing people under the bus’ 19
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal 49
- Mike Yeo is pretty unhappy with Minnesota’s goalie situation 20
- Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center 14
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands 61
- Advantage Kuemper? Harding on crutches after ankle injury 15
- Done deal, finally: Wings ink DeKeyser to two-year, $4.375M extension 11
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (61)
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (56)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (49)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)