If you missed last night's game, and simply checked the box score this morning, you might think that the Dallas Stars handled the Edmonton Oilers exactly like they should. You'd be wrong. Despite the final 4-1 score, it was a one goal game until the final four minutes of the third period. Up until that point, every goal scored had been a fluke or a head-scratcher.
The Stars surrendered plenty of chances to the speedy Oilers team last night, but they stayed in the game for one big, Finnish reason. Kari Lehtonen. With 35 saves on 36 shots, Kari stood on his head again last night, helping Dallas secure another two points in the standings. Mike Heika sums up the heroics of Kari best:
It's getting to the point where it's really tough to tell what Kari Lehtonen's best game is.
Was it the 39-save game in Detroit where he took a 2-1 win? How about the overtime loss to Chicago where he had 38 saves and the Stars had no reason to think they deserved a point? Or maybe it was Tuesday's 34-save performance in a 4-1 win against the hungry Oilers.
Heck, toss in all seven of the wins, because Lehtonen was pretty much the best player in all of them. Yes, Jaromir Jagr has come up with big goals. Yes, Jamie Benn has flexed his muscles at times. But Lehtonen has carried the Stars this season.
Needing Kari to perform big should not have been the case last night. With several days of rest and practice, the Stars were hoping to keep the shot totals and penalty troubles to a minimum. It didn't quite work out that way, as Kari stopped 10 of the shots faced last night while killing off five penalties. It was also the first game of the season that the Oilers had not scored a power play goal at home.
Granted, the team is making small improvements as the season progresses, but there is still a long way to go. While reducing the number of shots faced from 40+ down to 35 is nice, it's nothing to hang your hat on just yet. Hopefully, they can continue to get these problems sorted out. In the mean time, Stars fans can at least remain somewhat confident -- as long as Kari is there to save the day.
Coming up in today's links: More news from last night's game, The Columbus Blue Jackets are trying to make a fresh start, and the next exotic loaction for Dallas Stars training camp might be....Ft. Worth?
- Mark Stepneski has his thoughts on the game last night, and they're not much different. I like Dillon's quote best about his second NHL goal, though. "I just tried to get it on net, and I got a bounce." Bounce indeed. [Stars Inside Edge]
- In case you missed it earlier in the day, Mark Fistric talked about how excited he was to play the Stars last night. Now that they've lost against the Stars, I feel more comfortable in wishing him well. [Stars Inside Edge]
- I wonder if Bachman is sweating tonight's game just a bit, after seeing what Kari had to do on just the first night of this back to back set. At least he's prepared for what's to come. [Dallas News]
- Bob Sturm has a great write up on why Goose was a healthy scratch the other night, and why it have turned out to be a pretty good thing. [FSSW]
- Realignment talk is heating up again, now that the season is under way. And it could happen as soon as next season. [ESPN[
- I have nothing but the deepest respect for Wild goalie Josh Harding, who continues his career in the NHL, despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He's having to take a break from playing though, due to his medication. Let's send some good thoughts his way. [ESPN[
- The Blue Jackets fired their GM yesterday, looking to start heading in a new direction. That GM will certainly get the chance to prove his worth early, since Scott Howson is leaving him 3 first round draft picks. [PuckDaddy]
- Sports Illustrated has their power rankings for the week out and the Stars sit at 19th. It seems like a pretty accurate placing, given the number of "ifs" this team still has around it. [Sports Illustrated]
- Here's a list of 10 players that have been surprising everyone so far this season, including a former Dallas Star. The only question is whether or not these players can keep it up for the remainder of the shortened season. [Grantland]
- Dallas has been all over the place for training camps lately, but it seems like they might keep things a little more local if they can work out a deal with Ft. Worth. It seems like a bit of an odd choice to me, but it would be nice for local fans to seem them training again. [DMagazine]
- Before your video of the day, here's a link to a far more interesting one. A high school senior who decides to end the game on his own terms, in what might be considered the greatest jerk move of all time. [TheScore]
- Joe Buck is apparently a big St. Louis Blues fan, and was invited up to do a bit of the play by play in their recent loss to the LA Kings. He makes it feel exactly like a playoff baseball game in that they don't even discuss the game happening in front of them for the first minute and a half. Though when the Kings score on the Blues, it is rather enjoyable.