The Dallas Stars have spent several seasons and millions of dollars per year to upgrade – or even just stabilize – their presence in net. So, after an enervating bedding-in period early in the season, are Ben Bishop and Kari Lehtonen becoming the Dallas Stars goalie platoon the team (and the fans) have been hoping for?
And, just as importantly, is the goalie prospect pipeline starting to renew itself? Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News takes a look at the evidence and likes what he sees:
Dallas signed [Bishop] to a six-year contract in the summer, Lehtonen is assimilating to the role of backup, and 22-year-old Landon Bow is hitting his stride at the AHL level with a 10-5-0 record and 2.68 GAA. What's more, 19-year-old Colton Point and 18-year-old Jake Oettinger are playing well at the collegiate level.
"It's a good feeling for us right now," general manager Jim Nill said. "I think we are in a good place at the NHL level where we have good competition and protection from an injury, and we're also in a good place with our younger goalies."
For his part, GM Jim Nill expressed some satisfaction with the “aggressive makeover” he’s orchestrated for both the Dallas squad and their Cedar Park counterparts:
"It's not easy to just go out and get a goalie," Nill said. "There are only a few elite goalies out there, and most teams aren't giving them up, so you definitely have to work hard and get lucky sometimes."
Now, the combination of Bishop, 31, and Lehtonen, 34, could bring the Stars' goaltending back into the top half of the league again.
"I think Ben is one of the best goalies in the league, and we're lucky to have him," Nill said. "That's put Kari in a good position, and Kari is not giving up his games, which is the best part. We've got two goalies, and they both want to push each other."
There’s more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]
Kari’s playing extremely well on the road, and he’s earned his third consecutive start as the Stars take on the New Jersey Devils tonight at 6 p.m. Central time. If you’ve read the DBD preview, take a look at Mark Stepneski’s official version.
Mark also delivered these notes from the Stars’ Thursday practice:
Hitch:— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) December 14, 2017
Antoine Roussel will play tomorrow.
Radulov (lower body) didn't practice today but feeling better, will skate tomorrow. They'll see where he is in the morning. Day to day.
Pitlick had a maintenance day today
Scott Burnside delivers a nice long read on the Stars’ fall 2017 dads’ trip and the memories it created for Devin Shore, Tyler Pitlick and more.
Every NHL dads' trip is different, as different as the people that take part. But somehow the magic is constant as the @DallasStars and their dads and mentors proved once again. https://t.co/iCjBzUxxyW— Scott Burnside (@OvertimeScottB) December 14, 2017
Do you like Julius Honka? Sure, we all do! And so does the NHL Network, whose video crew learned the intricacies of Finnish baseball thanks to Li’l Murderface.
"The guy who hits it...goes BOOM [as] hard as he can."— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) December 14, 2017
The @DallasStars' defenseman @HonkaJulius taught us about Finnish baseball. ⚾️
Seems pretty straightforward....we think. pic.twitter.com/SLhzt4lSeW
Defense partner Stephen Johns was there, too, although he seems to have brought the wrong gear.
UPDATE: The NHL Network has posted the entire segment. Dive in.
"It's hard to get here, but it's even harder to stay here. I think that's the kind of attitude you have to stick with throughout your whole career, whether you have 400 games under your belt or five." @HonkaJulius @stjohns28 stopped by #NHLNow. @DallasStars pic.twitter.com/YIQPijzaSn— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) December 15, 2017
Mattias Janmark talked about winning pucks (and road games) and playing on a line with Alexander Radulov during yesterday’s practice update.
Head coach Ken Hitchcock made an appearance on BaD Radio yesterday, and Bob Sturm wants you to listen.
Today's radio visit with Ken Hitchcock. I have never enjoyed a visit on our show more. He is the best. I promise you will enjoy it. https://t.co/1J7oRxe1A6— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) December 14, 2017
Around the league(s)
Last Night In #Murder
- The Anaheim Ducks picked up some momentum, and Kevin Roy picked up two goals, as they beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1. [Anaheim Calling]
- Vinnie Hinostroza and Michal Kempny scored their first goals of the season as the Chicago Blackhawks took down the Winnipeg Jets 5-1. [Second City Hockey]
- Nathan MacKinnon got all the goals and Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves as the Colorado Avalanche scored a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. [Mile High Hockey]
- The Nashville Predators got four goals from four different players and 46 stops by Juuse Saros as they walloped the Edmonton Oilers 4-0. [On The Forecheck]
- And Alex Stalock earned the shutout as the Minnesota Wild defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0. [Hockey Wilderness]
The Wild are fortunate that Stalock is on a roll, because starter Devan Dubnyk is out for the foreseeable future with a lower body injury.
Los Angeles Kings forward Marian Gaborik will make his 1,000th NHL start tonight in Madison Square Garden. NHL.com’s Lisa Dillman talked with him about reaching a milestone that only 313 other players have attained. [NHL]
Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins have waived LW Matt Beleskey, just over two years after they signed him to a five-year, $19.8 million contract. Ryan Kennedy examines the case.
Also at THN: The NHL salary cap could go up to as much as $82 million next season. Jared Clinton lists five teams who stand to benefit the most. [THN]
Are the Calgary Flames coming to Houston? At least one Calgary journalist thinks so.
FRANCIS: Flames will be sold to Houston in three years https://t.co/r2TXBId5c2— Calgary Sun (@calgarysun) December 11, 2017
Former Stars Ales Hemsky and Jordie Benn were among the Habs who shaved their heads on Wednesday for the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation. Team members beat their goal of $30,000 to help kids battling cancer.
And forward Chris Neil will hang up his skates after 1,026 games as an Ottawa Senators lifer.
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
Brighten the holidays for Williamson County kids, and yourself, on Monday, Dec. 18: Bring a new, unwrapped toy to Austin Telco FCU in Leander, meet some Texas Stars, and get a game voucher.
Come meet your favorite players this Monday at @AustinTelco this Monday from 2-4! Bring a new, unwrapped toy benefiting Williamson County Brown Santa to receive a #txstars game voucher! pic.twitter.com/NQIEduQrL5— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) December 14, 2017
If you can’t make the 2-4 p.m. event at Austin Telco, you still have a chance to see T-Stars at Amy’s Ice Creams in Austin from 3-5 p.m.
For the first time since the preseason, Icethetics has updated its NHL milestones infographic. Save to file, and enjoy.