They say preseason results don't really mean much, but the Dallas Stars are 3-0 in the exhibition season and it's got to mean more good than bad. The Stars defeated the St. Louis Blues tonight by a score of 3-2 on strong goaltending and special teams play once again and will look to go 4-0 when they face the Avalanche tomorrow back to back.
Kari Lehtonen started the game and split it (nearly) an even 50/50 with Andrew Raycroft, who we last saw surrendering a flurry of goals in Montreal. Rayzor, as they call him, allowed a goal early in his stint that (from my vantage point) he'd probably like back but was otherwise stellar in stopping 18 of 20 shots against including some pretty high quality ones in the second period.
Lehtonen finished his night a perfect eleven for eleven and told the media after the game that he thought the team maybe let up a little after being up 2-0, but finished stronger. "We've moving forward. We're learning. We're trying to get comfortable," he added.
Dallas got goals from Matt Fraser, Ray Sawada and Michael Ryder, who continues to impress. The Ryder goal was a thing of beauty because of the setup. Loui Eriksson threaded a perfect pass through the crease and it was a slam dunk for Ryder on the power play.
I thought the goaltending was probably the best story of the night for the Stars, who had a little bit of unusual lineup tonight that might have been a little challenged offensively at times. Those situations come up in preseason. Coach Gulutzan agreed about the goaltending.
"I thought he was really good and made some big saves," said Stars Gulutzan of Lehtonen. "I thought Razor made some huge saves for us too. At the end of the day we are getting the goaltending we need."
Lehtonen added that he'll play the full 60 minutes in his next outing next week as continues preparations for the season. He's stopped 27 of 28 shots faced in the preseason so far.
A few more observations after the jump...
- When I talked to Brenden Dillon this morning at skate he said he was excited to play his first game at the AAC, and it might have showed. The big fella had a couple of scrambly shifts early on with Stephane Robidas but the pair settled down throughout and he finished with an even plus/minus, two hits and a blocked shot.
- Stephane Robidas was glad to be back on the ice and you could tell. He was one of the more physical players in a game that sorely lacked physicality (from an entertainment standpoint.) Looks like he's feeling good and will be ready to go.
- Matt Fraser scored again. All this guy does is score. It doesn't matter at which level he is. He excelled in juniors last year. Scored four in Traverse City. Scored in Montreal. Scored tonight. He has a knack for it, and he had some good shifts with Ribeiro and Ryder. It was a good opportunity for him. It will be interesting to see what he does with Texas this year.
- Speaking of Michael Ryder, I think Stars fans are really going to enjoy watching him play. He has a nose for the puck and he's got one thing on his mind when he gets it: Get it on net. He'll add a lot to the power play with that right shot, as Ribeiro and Eriksson proved tonight assisting on his goal.
- The Radek Dvorak - Vernon Fiddler - Loui Eriksson line was an interesting combination and I came away with mixed feeling. For whatever the reason there wasn't much in the way of chemistry tonight. Vernon Fiddler did win 13 of 20 faceoffs. That's what he does.
- The changing of the game presentation continues in various little ways you may never notice unless you're a season ticket holder. The goal song aside, tonight's change was that Bill Oellermann, instead of his patented "Oooooooooooooone minute! One minute remaining in the ____ period!" He was asked to provide a rather droll, quiet "one minute" and not a word more. Not to be nit picky, but...really? I think the fans enjoy Bill's traditional one minute call. I know I did.
- I think the Stars are taking Beskorowany and Bachman to Colorado tomorrow. We presume the game will be on the Colorado radio feed and we'll have another gameday thread, of course, so please join us if you can.