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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Lehtonen and the Backup Role

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After several years as the starter for the Dallas Stars, Kari Lehtonen has settled in as the backup goalie. Plus Nashville loads up for the playoffs with an unexpected add and trade deadline speculation.

Dallas Stars v New Jersey Devils Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Dallas Stars have had a lot of luck with backup goaltenders this year. Granted, most of it has been bad luck (they continue to have a knack for making opposing backups look like Vezina candidates), but there is a silver lining when it comes to backup goalie Kari Lehtonen:

Lehtonen has been on a strong run lately. He is 5-2-0 in his last seven starts -- all on the road -- with a 1.98 goals against average and .929 save percentage.

”He’s given us a chance every night, especially on the road here,” Hitchcock said. “I am looking forward to seeing how he does.”

Lehtonen was the undisputed starter for several years for the Stars (and still the preferred starter the last two over Antti Niemi), but that all changed when the team traded for and signed Ben Bishop. But although he is in a different role than before, that hasn’t changed much about how Lehtonen approaches things:

“The surprise of the season to me is Kari Lehtonen. His professionalism, his execution, his practices, his disposition. To me, he has been the biggest surprise of this hockey club,” Hitchcock said. “I didn’t know anything about him, but he has been a first-class pro and works his tail off, competes like crazy in practice. He has unbelievable daily focus, not only game days but off days. It’s very impressive.”

You can read more in Mark Stepneski’s piece here.


Stars Stories

The Stars take on the Arizona Coyotes later tonight. Mark Stepneski’s got you covered with the official game preview: [NHL]

Here are your practice lines from yesterday:

If that makes you raise your eyebrows, don’t worry:

Scott Burnside sat down and had a fun little interview with Stars blueliner Stephen Johns: [NHL]


Around the League

It was a slow news day for the most part, except for one teeny tiny announcement from the Nashville Predators:

Yup, Mike Fisher is back for one final run at glory. Here’s what the addition means for the Predators’ cup chances: [The Hockey News]

Elsewhere in the Central, here’s another case for Nathan MacKinnon to win the Hart Trophy: [FanRag Sports]

I’ve discussed this before in the comments, and I stand by my opinion that this would be a grave mistake:

Speaking of the deadline, who says it’s for playoff rentals? Jared Clinton names his top trade candidates, and many of them have tenure on their contracts. [The Hockey News]

Jaromir Jagr has signed with the Czech team he owns, but his knee injury might continue to keep him off the ice for now. [NBC Sports]

Elliotte Friedman talks Jagr and more in his 31 Thoughts: [Sportsnet]


Finally...

Whether you hate or love tolerate him, Gary Bettman has had a lasting impact on this league. Here’s a look back over the past 25 years since he became commissioner: