The decision was announced yesterday but received very little fanfare here on DBD. With many expecting Kari Lehtonen to play on Saturday night against the Western Conference foe Detroit Red Wings, coach Glen Gulutzan made the surprising call to instead play Lehtonen against the Penguins tonight and supposedly start Andrew Raycroft tomorrow night in Detroit.
I can understand Gulutzan's reasoning here. The Stars are riding high right now, flowing with a wave of momentum with the team playing some incredible hockey in front of Lehtonen and perhaps not wanting to mess with chemistry too much. There's also the chance that he sees this game against Pittsburgh as the tougher of the two games and he wants Lehtonen in net against a team that is now considered the best in the East.
Here's the other school of thought: the Red Wings are coming on strong after an early-season slump and there's a good chance the Stars will be competing directly with them for playoff positioning this season. Because of how competitive the Western Conference is this season, the games against the East just aren't as important in the long as these games against the West will become.
Glen Gulutzan has shown all season that he has nothing but the highest of confidence in his backup goaltender and personally I find it refreshing that he won't hesitate to play Raycroft against a team like Detroit on the road. There's no doubt that tonight's game will most likely be the harder of the two and with both Detroit and Dallas playing back-to-backs this weekend, there's really no telling what will happen.
Of course, Lehtonen could play both games and this whole conversation is moot.
What's your call?