Should Dallas Stars Start Jhonas Enroth in Last Game of Season?
The Dallas Stars need to solve their goaltending issues for next season. While this year will officially close out without playoffs, the last game of the season still means something for the future.
Kari Lehtonen last appeared in the Dallas Stars net around minute 55 of their matchup with the St. Louis Blues on home ice. He was pulled after allowing six goals on 19 shots. That's good for a 0.684 save percentage.
That....is not the kind of goaltending you want to see from your starter in a game where the Stars chances at the playoffs were still alive (even if barely).
Jhonas Enroth was then tapped to take on two playoff-bound teams on the road: the Nashville Predators, who have a sparkling 79 percent points percentage on home ice, and the Anaheim Ducks who are no slouches on their home ice either (67 percent points percentage).
The result? An overtime win over Nashville with a 0.917 save percentage. A shutout in Anaheim. And between those playoff teams, he was also solid in a 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks with a 0.958 save percentage.
While it's just three games and a tiny sample size, Enroth has looked good in those games against very deadly teams. Of course, some could argue that the team in front of him has been just as much a reason for the shiny numbers than his own play, and that would be fair.
But the Stars haven't gotten good performances out of their backups this year, nor have they had good performances at home where they are a sad 0.500 on the season.
So as they head into the last home game of this season, who gets the net -- Lehtonen, who has struggled mightily at times, or Enroth, who is rolling?
Enroth needs the time to be evaluated so that the Dallas Stars management team can make a determination on whether he is someone they want to try to retain next season or if they're better served looking for a backup on the trade or free agency markets.
There's also an argument to be made that Enroth is on a good roll right now. Ride the hot glove. You're exactly 0.500 at home with a 16-16-8 record. The fans at home deserve to see a win in the last game of this season, especially after that wacky Blues game that was lost after the Stars lit the lamp five times and still managed a way to lose.
But there is some argument for starting Lehtonen as well.
You want your starter to exorcise his demons on home ice and have a chance to reset for next season, so to speak. With his confidence in his game presumably punctured this year, benching him for the last game of the season may not send a message of confidence in him for next year.
With the team playing better as a unit, placing Lehtonen in net could give everyone the sense that he is more than capable with the support of the guys in front of him to record wins. This would also give the team the opportunity to showcase that they can play the same way regardless of who is in net for the Stars.
So who do you pick to start the last home game of the season? Will we see a win on home ice to end this year on a little less bitter note?
Who would you start in the season finale in goal for the Dallas Stars?