The Stars have seen their fair share of outstanding goaltending performances this year. Ideally they would have witnessed those performances by the fellow wearing their uniform in goal, but that has infrequently been the case. Carey Price activated his force fields for Montreal recently, and we certainly don't want to hear anything further about Ondrej Pavelec and his 96 saves or whatever. That game technically happened, but we don't have to deign to remember it. Most recently, some guy that 2014 Evgeni Nabokov was blocking came up big more for Tampa Bay on Thursday night, stopping Tyler Seguin's 23 shots while also baking a pineapple upside-down cake for the press box at intermission. (Brad and Brandon won't say, but I suspect it was tasty to very tasty.)
Given these and too many other losses this year, you could be forgiven for writing an angry column about how the Stars have lousy luck and how Kari Lehtonen has been just lousy this year. If that is how you feel, then good news for you! That column has already been written by someone else, but I'll save it for the links. Instead, I wanted to briefly dwell on the nature of the position itself; as we've seen this year, goaltending can either save a mediocre team from Quebec or hamstring a good team from the heart of Texas. That's because goalies are kind of a big deal:
Even the most-used defenseman in the league only plays 30 minutes a night or so, and forwards might sometimes check in around 25 for the season. Goalies play the full 60. But also, goaltending is the ultimate arbiter of whether a team is or isn't good. The Jets have missed the playoffs for years, despite being of roughly that quality, because they relied on a poor goaltender who cost them more games than he won them. You hear all the time that goalies can "steal games," and basically every night, Price is doing just that.
But the issue is that if you start awarding goalies like Price the Hart because they are putting up big numbers, then the Hart should go to a goalie every year. Even if you add in the qualification that they need to play for mediocre-or-worse teams, Semyon Varlamov should have won the Hart last season, and Henrik Lundqvist in the lockout year, and Mike Smith in 2012, and Ryan Miller in 2010, and you can basically go on like this for a while. That doesn't necessarily mean the Vezina winner should win it every year, but it's not far off, either.
Put another way: The best goalie in the league is, far more often than not, the most valuable player in the league. This isn't a particularly arguable point. Were trophies awarded with this in mind, it would be the rare forward to break through the monotony of another goaltender Hart win, rather than the other way around. [Puck Daddy]
So while we will certainly take yesterday's poll results straight to the Official Stars Fix-It-Quick Room, Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff have both been pretty frank lately about the fix that can have the biggest impact of all. We might not know if Kari has that answer until next year.
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Saturday mornings are a great time to indulge in two cups of coffee, to get cream cheese with your bagel, or to just not eat cereal for once in your life. Branch out already.
The Sabres. The Buffalo Sabres. I mean, come on. This isn't...this team...the Stars should win by twenty goals. What will be the actual final score, though? Probably not 20-0. Maybe 30-10? I don't know, actually. [USA Today]
Tim Cowlishaw is still grumpy from the Cowboys game, so he decided to talk about how Kari Lehtonen has been not good at all this year. I'm still sad about that game, too, for what it's worth. [DMN]
Pro Hockey Talk also read Cowlishaw's Kari piece, and they don't disagree. Also, when did the term "put on blast" become so commonplace? I just heard it for the first time last year, and I'm as hep as they come. [PHT]
Kari Lehtonen says he's trying to stay positive amid the mind games that goalies go through during rough seasons. [DMN]
Tyler Seguin gave a Stars jersey to Bob Sturm. Would someone mind explaining the whole #ragonk thing to me? I tried to research it once, and I just ended up with a headache and lots of anger. [Twitter]
Radek Faksa and Ales Hemsky are some of the names mentioned for the Czech Republic's team for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey Tournament Exposition Bazaar. [THN]
Nashville hasn't been all that good against top teams this year. I'm sure that won't be a problem in the playoffs, though. [Nashville Post]
Evander Kane has opted for shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season. He is still expected to be traded before next season. [SportsNet]
Tampa Bay has acquired a couple of forwards from Toronto for a 7th round pick. This opens up a couple of roster spots for Toronto, so go ahead and speculate to your heart's content. [Lightning]
Kimmo Timonen is going to try to come back this season. It's a great story for a great guy, but Travis Hughes wonders how risky this return might be. [Broad Street Hockey]
Henrik Lundqvist will now miss at least three weeks with a vascular issue, and he could be out longer than that. [CBS Sports]
Finally, this weekend's Grab Bag from Down Goes Brown is worth it for many reasons, but most of all for a video of 1993 Ed Belfour going nuts and a young Darryl Sutter jogging across the ice to scream at the referee after a mess of a video review. [Grantland]