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Goaltending A Stars Strong Suit

Stars remain strong and steady with goaltending core for 2012-13

Thursday, 09.13.2012 / 8:39 AM CT / Feature
By Mark Stepneski
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Goaltending A Stars Strong Suit

This is the third installment in a series of articles after having visited with Stars Head Coach Glen Gulutzan, previewing the club’s various position groups, special teams and overall team outlook.

One area the Stars didn’t see any change this offseason was goaltending, as Kari Lehtonen is the man in net for the Stars, and Richard Bachman is No. 2 on the depth chart.

Lehtonen is coming off a strong 2011-12 season that saw him rank eighth in the NHL with a .922 save percentage and tenth in the league with a 2.33 goals against average. Those were career-best numbers for Lehtonen, who was among the first Dallas players to return to Frisco this summer.

“He looks terrific,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “He’s put in a lot of work this summer, and he looks really good. It’s a testament to Mike Valley (goaltending coach), J.J. McQueen (player development coordinator) and Brad Jellis (strength and conditioning coach). And it’s a testament to ‘Lehts’ putting in the time. He looks great and I expect him to have a great year.”

Lehtonen was arguably the team’s MVP last season and established himself as a top goaltender in the league. Still, there is more to achieve for Lehtonen, who has been to the playoffs only once in his NHL career, back in 2007 with the Atlanta Thrashers.

“The next step for him is to have playoff success,” said Gulutzan. “That is coming.”

Valley said the key to taking that next step is coming up big at key times.

“The difference between the very, very top guys and kind of the tier right below is who can absolutely steal you that game at that crucial time,” Valley said. “That’s regardless of the chances they get in front of them. Kari has stolen a ton of games for us, but now, it is taking it to the next level and putting the team on his back when they need it the most.”

Bachman, who signed a one-year, one-way contract worth $625,000 this offseason, is expected to be the backup. It’s a job he took over from Andrew Raycroft during last season and performed well, posting an 8-5-1 record, 2.77 goals against average and .910 save percentage.

“’Bachs’ is coming for his second year and we expect him to get better,” said Gulutzan. “The next step for him is to come in here in fantastic condition, and a little quicker because he is so positional. That is going to come with a summer of training, and being a little more settled.”

The Stars see themselves as deeper at the goaltending position this season with the addition of Cristopher Nilstorp, who was signed as a free agent out of the Swedish Elite League. Nilstorp, 28, is coming off two excellent seasons with Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League, including a 2010-11 campaign that saw him help lead the club to the league championship.

Nilstorp is expected to need some time in the AHL to get acclimated to the North American game and playing on the smaller rink, but he should push those above him on the depth chart. That means competition, which is always a good thing.

“Nilstorp is an elite goalie at a pro level, and now we have some competition,” said Gulutzan. “We have depth in goaltending and we have a No. 1 who is a top goaltender in the league. That is going to solidify us back there.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 57 36 17 4 158 130 76
2 DAL 54 34 15 5 174 145 73
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 52 32 17 3 144 119 67
5 SJS 52 28 20 4 149 138 60
6 ANA 52 26 19 7 117 122 59
7 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
8 COL 56 27 25 4 149 155 58
9 MIN 53 23 20 10 130 130 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 52 24 25 3 138 151 51
13 WPG 53 24 26 3 137 151 51
14 EDM 55 21 29 5 133 166 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 54 28 33 16 61
T. Seguin 54 28 30 11 58
J. Klingberg 54 9 35 15 44
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 54 16 24 -1 40
A. Goligoski 54 4 20 17 24
C. Eakin 54 10 13 1 23
M. Janmark 54 10 10 13 20
J. Demers 48 7 12 16 19
V. Nichushkin 51 6 13 7 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 14 5 0 .909 2.82
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