It might be a little unfair to Kari Lehtonen, putting him front and center in the title, as if Game 7 rested purely on his shoulders. However, you can admit Kari Lehtonen was a big part of why Dallas lost Game 7 without arguing that he lost Dallas the series.
After all, he basically won them Game 6. If Dallas' special teams were better, maybe this never goes to game 7. What if Tyler Seguin had been healthy. What if the officiating errs on the side of silence on Antoine Roussel in Overtime in Game 2. What if, what if, what if....
They don't amount to much except to ponder all possible worlds like a stoner in the philosophy classroom trying to understand Derrida.
But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. In the first period, Dallas had 5 high danger scoring chances to St. Louis' zero. They owned the scoring chances, and the shot attempets. Yet St. Louis owned the scoreboard 3-0. It's hard for hockey fans and observers to claim a Bill Buckner moment when so many events converge to create a goal, but Kari approximated that feat with the second goal that looked way too similar to the called back goal for there to be any reasonable excuse.
So yes. Kari's performance stings. Mainly because I don't know that he's ever strung three good wins together for the last two seasons. But one bad performance will never define a 7 game series. Certainly not more than an anemic power play. A 1-3 home record. A leaky penalty kill. And so forth. Period. End of story.
Now the real story is what happens in the offseason. Jim Nill has the option of buying out one of the goalies. He also has plenty of options to make a hockey trade. With Cedar Park looking good, plenty of teams will be itching to take advantage of Dallas' "win now" mode. Which means if you're a sexy prospect, watch that NHL news ticker. Although even game scores are an hour late to update, so maybe just log on to Twitter.
I wish I could offer more than just my emotions after the game, but emotions are all I have left right now. I was a hardened skeptic this year even though I felt they would do well in the regular season. And then Mattias Janmark came through in a top six role out of nowhere. Then Radek Faksa came in, and stole the checking line center role like he was genetically engineered to shut down your favorite goal scorer. Then Stephen Johns came in like a six shooter with Wifi, playing what seemed like an outmoded physical game that sacrifices none of the modern day speed and finesse. Valeri Nichuhskin stepped it up these last three games against St. Louis, promising on what he was drafted for by playing like he knew his future was already here (just distributed unevenly).
This is what Dallas must accept: that presence is not something defined by quantity. But by quality. Janmark, Nichushkin, Faksa, Johns, Seguin, Klingberg, Benn...this is your presence. Not veterans who were lucky to lift some silver one time. But by players actively looking to prove their worth to the franchise that believes in them.
Until next year.