Dallas Stars fans instantly saw disaster in the future when yesterday we learned that Kari Lehtonen was suffering from "lower body stiffness" and that he would miss last night's game against Chicago. Lehtonen has been a big reason for this season's success and his injury history makes one instantly worry whenever issues arise. Some thought that this might be the first sign that Lehtonen was falling back into the pattern that has plagued him throughout his career.
Today, coach Marc Crawford told the media that Lehtonen was improving and could be an "option" tomorrow night against Carolina. It turns out that Lehtonen actually had some soreness in his back, which is a bit alarming considering his multiple back surgeries the past few seasons.
The Stars, however, are being very safe with the goaltender and say the team is just being cautious with Lehtonen. Says Marc Crawford, via the DMN:
"He may be an option for us tomorrow, but I think it's probable that we'll be really careful. Unless he is 100 percent, we have to be prudent and sure and just do the right thing.
"There's nothing structurally wrong with him. He's got some soreness, and that's going to happen every now and then. He's been diligent with it. Our trainers have been diligent with it. Our medical people have been diligent with it. We're confident he's going to come back and play a lot."
It's a good bet that Lehtonen is under strict order to report any soreness or tightness at all to the training staff and if it does come up, they're going to be very careful with his health. With someone with his injury history, attempting to fight through any soreness could turn disastrous. I'm expecting Andrew Raycroft to be in net tomorrow night, unless Lehtonen is suddenly 100% better overnight.