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Kari Lehtonen, the most underrated goalie in the NHL

Nov 14, 2013, 11:38 AM EDT

Not sure how many of you stayed up to watch last night’s Stars-Oilers game in Edmonton. Those that did saw a first-star performance from Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen, who really has to be the most underrated netminder in the NHL.

Lehtonen’s 22-save shutout in the Stars’ 3-0 victory bumped his save percentage up to .932. While he’s far from the only regular starter off to an excellent start to the season…


…it doesn’t seem like he gets the attention he deserves.

Maybe that’s because of the market he plays in. Or maybe it’s because he’s signed through 2017-18 so there’s no contract speculating to do. Or maybe it’s because the 29-year-old has been doing what he’s doing for so long that it’s not really a story anymore.

In 393 NHL games, Lehtonen has a save percentage of .915. Among active goalies with at least 10,000 career saves, only Tim Thomas (.921), Henrik Lundqvist (.920), Roberto Luongo (.919) and Tomas Vokoun (.917) have stopped a higher percentage of shots.

That’s pretty good company. Maybe we should talk about the guy a bit more.

  1. dhawks19 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Agreed. Finland has a lot of really good candidates for olympic consideration. Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi, Kari Lehtonen, Tuukka Rask.

  2. ibieiniid - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    “Maybe that’s because of the market he plays in.” Does this not tell the whole story? I think most of us are aware of HOW good he is, or at the very least, that he’s a great goalie in the game right now. I said it once on PHT, but I think the league and broadcasters would be well-off if they started promoting the game of hockey rather than individual teams. focus a bit on how Lehtonen is a superstar goalie, pick up some Stars fans in other markets. There’s no reason every hockey fan shouldn’t be aware of what a guy like Shane Doan in a weak market like Phoenix has been doing over the last 10 games at age 37. Instead, we get to hear what Patrick Kane put on his second plate at the monthly brunch buffet (I made that up, don’t go looking for the story. also, no offense to real Kane news).

    • ibieiniid - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      on second though, I guess that’s what this particular NBC-based hockey news outlet is doing with this very article. well done again, PHT.

    • skr213 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Totally agreed!! So crazy how much useless news we get from the “big” market East Coast teams (and Chicago and Detroit), while basic news like “when is Brent Burns going to be back in the Sharks line-up” just falls by the wayside. Glad that PHT is one of the few places braking that tradition.

  3. kicksave1980 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    I think he’s a great goalie, but he’s hurt. All…the…time.

    • broadstreetsbaddest88 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      That’s exactly why. He’s a great goalie and definitely the most underrated in the league but I feel like he’s constantly hurt. He comes back and plays great and hurts himself again. I love the way he plays and deserves more recognition and for his insane at times highlight leg saves. The guy has some sick moves. If he could stay up healthy he’d be top ten at minimal every year

  4. skr213 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Couple of those saves he made against the Oilers yesterday were just siiiiiick.

  5. broadstreetsbaddest88 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Josh Harding should be gettin some recognition for his insane numbers this year. He’s leading the league with a mind boggling GAA of 1.21 and save% of 9.47 in 15 games played. Hats off to Harding

  6. mrpinkca - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    He also make ridiculous scorpion saves 2-3 times a year.

  7. dlk75150 - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    No one gives recognition to team members when the team doesn’t make the playoffs. Loui never was recognized here either. Can you imagine how good he would be with a good d in front of him. Unfortunately Dallas management doesn’t address this and as a result he gets hurt b/c he has to make crazy saves night after night.

  8. timmmah10 - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    To me, flashy saves are overrated. Brodeur in his prime, for example, really wasn’t a flashy tender. He was consistently in position, was very good and vision through traffic, and his rebound control was off the charts.

    Kari has all of those tools, but gets caught sprawling a lot. BUT all that being said, I rank Lehtonen easily in the top 10 goalies in the league. IF he does anything during a future a playoff run, he’d move up that list quickly.

  9. darksidecowboy - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    If it wasn’t for the Big Finn in Big D, the Stars would be in the NHL cellar. Not like they’re running the table, but if GM Nill can get the defense steady they might get a sniff in the super competitive western conference playoffs.

  10. gbfb88 - Nov 15, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Hey Jason, THIS is the type of article I’ve been waiting for on Dallas, and I’m sorry to have offended you last week. Thank you for the well-written, slightly overdue, coverage of just how amazing Kari has been for the Stars.

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