Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kari Lehtonen Needs to Show Something

Tonights Stars - Sharks matchup is a big one for Dallas. Not only do they need to win just about every game through the end of the year to have a chance at the playoffs (not likely barring divine intervention), but they need to see what the big Fin netminder, Kari Lehtonen, has up his sleeve to give GM Joe Nieuwendyk some idea of what the stars will have in net going forward. Having not seen either of his two appearances first hand, it is hard to know exactly how to interpret Lehtonen's poor numbers.

I know everyone is cutting him some slack because of his long absence from the NHL, the Stars pourous defense, and the fact that his first start was against the defending champs, but he needs to show at least a gilmmer of hope that he can be the stonewall of the future, otherwise dire times, for both the club and anxious fans, are ahead for Dallas. I believe that Kari has the right tools to be a great goaltender, and if a stronger work ethic, somthing I hear may be lacking in his game, can be instilled by the leaders of the team (read: Brenden Morrow and Stephane Robidas), that talent could be realized and help bring Dallas back to contender status in the West.

Thinking about where this team is currently positioned as a franchise - mediocre in the standings and on the ice, but with a fairly deep pool of young talent, prospects and a high draft pick coming, cap room, and a ownership situation that will hopefully be resolved in the near future - the future does not look so bleak. Specifically, the Stars have their recent first-round pick Scott Glennie performing well in Junior, he maybe a year or so away, and they have the prospect of picking in the top 10 in a deep 2010 draft, starting a new direction for the club.

I do not know how the Stars will regroup after two (probably) non-playoff years, but for the rebound year to be in 2011, the Stars will need to hope that Lehtonen can shine, and the front office can shore up the defense. If those two things happen and the Stars can have a confident, efficient, puck-moving back end with a reliable safety net in goal, then a Marc Crawford system could function as drawn up, utilizing many of the Stars talented and gritty forwards pushing the pace, and Dallas may have a chance to head to back to better days.

No comments: