The goaltending situation this season for the Dallas Stars has certainly been an interesting one.
At first, there was the drama of who would be the back up goalie when the season began. Cristopher Nihlstorp had been playing very well at the AHL level, and wound up getting the nod over Bachman, who did not play at all during the lockout. Stars fans originally thought that this was a tremendous problem to have, as Bachman had been extremely solid in net last year for Dallas, and having another backup play just as well as him would be a huge leg up.
Unfortunately, things did not really work out that way, as both netminders were unable to provide the security in net that the Dallas Stars needed. This could not have been more evident during the time that Kari Lehtonen was out with an injury.
Now, the most recent development is that Richard Bachman is going to be seeing some game time in the AHL. The hope is that getting him those minutes will help to get him back into proper form, and be ready to assist Dallas when he is called upon to do so.
The nice little twist for Stars fans is that, with Nihlstorp currently injured, that only leaves Jack Campbell to be called up.
Campbell was a bit of a controversial pick back in 2010 draft. A few defensement that no one beleved would be available were still there for Dallas to pick at 11th overall. Instead, they chose what they believed would be the future of the franchise in goalie Jack Campbell.
With the lack of defensive depth (that still exists today), many fans were upset that the Stars did not choose a player like Cam Fowler, who the Ducks immediately snatched up after Dallas handed over the microphone that day. What was even more frustrating was that the Ducks were able to immediately put Fowler on the ice, providing them with a D-man that they sorely needed. Fans would see the Ducks reaping the benefit of that draft, while the Stars' pick continued to play in the OHL.
The problem is, however, that goalies take far longer to develop than other positions. They have to be brought through slowly if you want them to succeed. And that is a lesson that not only Stars fans had to lern, but a young Jack Campbell as well.
The highly competitive Campbell, who at one time was always in a hurry to climb the development ladder, has learned to slow things down a bit and absorb some lessons. Lessons that have helped make him a better goaltender and earned him his first NHL stint.
"With Jack it is a process. To get to the NHL and become an elite goaltender, you have to climb that step. There is no jumping those steps," Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley said. "When you are young and newly drafted, you want to get there as quick as you can. You get to a point where you start realizing, wait a second, it doesn't work that way. I do have to learn my lessons, I do have to have the ups and downs, I do have to continue to learn. That's what he went through."
Learning to be patient was one just hurdle for Campbell.
"Half of it is accepting that goalies take longer. You have to continue to get better every day, both physically and mentally," the 21-year-old Campbell said Tuesday afternoon. "The other half is you realize how good the NHL goalies really are. It's no knock on those guys when your goal is to be up here sooner than later, but until you see them playing and practicing every day then it's an eye-opener. You look at Kari (Lehtonen) and he does everything so well. I am just trying to learn from him. It's half mentally on my part and half seeing how good those guys are."
And getting that good doesn't just happen. There will be those ups and downs, and Campbell has had his since being drafted by the Stars in the first round (11th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He had two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League where things didn't go as well as maybe he would have liked.
Campbell has struggled whenever he first entered the next level of development, as he would try to do too much while also coping with the higher level competition to what he had been facing before. Each time, though, he has been able to regroup and play better than before.
This season with the Texas Stars has been no different. While his play was not as strong as it could have been at the beginning of the year, he has certainly stepped up to the plate recently.
But once the NHL lockout ended and Nilstorp headed to Dallas and then was tweaked a groin and went on injured reserve, Campbell had a chance to take the reins in Texas and he didn't disappoint. In February, he posted a 6-2-1 record with a 1.65 goals against average and .932 save percentage. For the season, he is 14-10-3 with a 2.59 goals against average and .906 save percentage.
"I have a lot of confidence in my play right now and I have a lot of confidence in the team," Campbell said.
Valley said the first part of the season, when Campbell served as a backup to Nilstorp, provided some valuable lessons.
The hope is that, getting some time to see how things are in the NHL, he can begin learning those lessons now, and be prepared when he is called up for good. Whether that is next season, or the season after, it's too early to tell right now. Whenever it is, Jack Campbell hopes he will be ready.
Coming up in today's links: Observations from the previous game, more about tonight's, some Dallas affiliate news, and other items from around the NHL.
- Speaking of Jack Campbell being drafted, Allan Muir talks about the controversy of choosing him over Cam Fowler. But I'm not sure how you can admit that he has no physical presence and consistently makes poor decisions with the puck, yet call him a high-end talent in the same sentence. [Sports Illustrated]
- Mike Heika has some observations from the game against the flames, trying to dissect exactly what kind of team the Dallas Stars are. [Dallas News]
- Mark Stepneski has his game preview for today, including the stats matchup between teams. [Stars Inside Edge]
- A while back, the Allen Americans had a charity night, playing in some Ronald McDonald jerseys. Apparently, the clown himself paid a visit to the locker room, and gave a miracle of a speech to motivate the boys. [Puck Daddy]
- While I haven't heard anything official yet, this was mentioned in last night's Texas Stars game. Apparently, the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers are going to attempt to do the preseason game in San Antonio next season. [Biz Journals]
- The NHL misery watch is out an about, letting teams who are having disappointing season know why they should be happy. [Grantland]
- The Blue Jackets won again last night, now tying them for 8th in the West. As of right now, that means that the Stars are worse than the Blue Jackets. Eesh. At any rate, here's the 3 stars from around the league last night. [Puck Daddy]
- The Texas Stars played last night. Things did not get off to a great start, with a soft goal allowed by Bachman, and Texas playing from behind. But they were able to rally in the third, and defeat the Rampage 4-3. [Texas Stars Hockey]
- Unfortunately, one of the Rampage players suffered a pretty traumatic injury during the game. While down on the ice after being high-sticked, Andre Deveaux had his face stepped on with a skate. We have video below so you can see exactly what happened. And while this clip is not bloody or gory, it still may not be the easiest thing in the world to watch, so it's up to you to click play. You can see it really well beginning at the :45 mark.