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Stars Ready For Strong Push

Sunday, 02.28.2010 / 11:29 PM / News
By Travis Betts  - DallasStars.com
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Stars Ready For Strong Push

As Olympic hockey comes to a close this weekend, the NHL gets ready to resume its regular season. With 19-21 games remaining for most NHL teams, and the playoff picture still cloudy, the final stretch of the season should be full of high-intensity action as teams battle for the right to play postseason hockey.

Lehtonen and Andy Moog
The Dallas Stars’ first game back will be March 2 against the Los Angeles Kings, one of the eight teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings. It is the first of 16 games in the last 30 days of March for the Stars, 14 of which are against teams currently in a playoff spot. But Stars’ coach Marc Crawford said that the schedule ahead presents a good opportunity for his team.

“It’s going to be exciting. I think the break came at a good time for our club, because I think that even though we were playing well, I do think we’re going to benefit well from the rest that was provided, especially for people like Stephane Robidas and Mike Modano. You go down the list, and there were clearly some guys who were fatigued. Coming down the stretch, we were winning because our goalie was playing remarkably well and we were getting some timely scoring from our group.”

Speaking of goalies, one of the major storylines around the club is the addition of Kari Lehtonen, the 26-year-old Finnish goaltender who has played his entire career with the Atlanta Thrashers after being picked No. 2 overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. With Alex Auld being claimed by the New York Rangers off re-entry waivers Saturday, it looks probable that the Stars will not trade the incumbent Marty Turco, but keep him through the season. Turco said that the addition of Lehtonen doesn’t add any more pressure to what he has to do.

“The pressure is always there,” Turco said. “The only thing I really look at is where the team sits in the standings, how we’ve been playing, and what I can do.”

What he can do is try to build off his recent success. Turco went 3-0-1 in the last four games before the Olympic break, with two shutouts. All three wins were against Western Conference teams that the Stars are chasing for a playoff spot.

“He’s always been a great reaction goaltender. When he’s seeing the puck, and he’s feeling comfortable and loose, he seems to play his best hockey. And he’s done that over the last two-week period.,” Crawford said.

After Friday’s practice, Crawford was asked how he would play each goaltender down the stretch.

“Our plan is that we’re going to try and win every game. That’s the way it has to be. Marty’s going to get the first game and that’s as far as we’ve gone. For the sake of planning, we want to get Kari in, because I don’t think it’s fair for him to go too long without playing. But apart from getting him into a game fairly quick, we’re going to take a look at each game, and try and do whatever we can to try and win each game.”

Lehtonen hasn’t appeared in an NHL game yet this season because of an injury, but he has played four games for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. Despite a winning record in his career – a 94-83-17 record in 204 NHL contests, Lehtonen admitted to needing a fresh start, and is eager to play with his new team.

“It’s exciting for me. I spent many years in Atlanta, and the last couple of years weren’t going well. So it’s great to have the opportunity with a great team like this. It’s exciting,” Lehtonen said. “Anything I get, I will be happy, and I’m just excited to do my best.”










SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 61 23 37 -1 60
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 61 14 37 -3 51
E. Cole 56 18 14 4 32
J. Klingberg 47 10 22 4 32
T. Daley 58 16 15 -11 31
A. Hemsky 55 9 17 -7 26
A. Goligoski 61 2 24 4 26
C. Eakin 58 12 13 -3 25
A. Roussel 59 11 11 -11 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 25 13 9 .906 2.96
J. Enroth 13 24 2 .900 3.31
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