The Dallas Stars are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race again, they got off to the same fast start that they had gotten off to last season, but much like the 2011 season, the Stars are poised to drop off the face of the map and this new injury news will only exacerbate the issue. On Saturday night, their number one goalie, Kari Lehtonen, only managed to play in just over five minutes against the Phoenix Coyotes, before making a save doing the splits and then crumbling in pain. Lehtonen had to be helped off the ice and the rest of the game was left to Andrew Raycroft.
On Sunday morning, the Stars wasted no time in placing Lehtonen on the injured reserve, which doesn't bode well for the Stars or their number one keeper. It is believed to be a groin injury that has sidelined him and I think it is fair to say that he will be out indefinitely.
Lehtonen has made 19 appearances in the Stars' crease this year, amassing a record of 13-4-1 with no shutouts, a 2.34 GAA and .926 save percentage. His wins are good enough for 26 points in the pool this season, which currently has him in 11th pool scoring, 6th among all goalies. The Stars next option, Raycroft, has a record of 0-5-0 this year, so this could be a pretty big blow to the team, who will have to rally around their back-up, for as long as it takes to get their number one guy back in the crease.
The Stars have recalled goaltender Richard Bachman to take back-up duties behind Raycroft and I would imagine that if Lehtonen is out for the long-term, Bachman will probably figure into some games before too long.
In the draft, Wayne H., our pool leader, made Lehtonen into the last pick of the 2nd round of the draft, 44th overall, and was getting some 1st round results out of the Finnish netminder, which has helped his cause in opening up a significant lead in the pool, at the end of Week Eight. Going into Sunday's action, Wayne has a 12-point lead and will pick last in both rounds of the waiver draft, without any doubt. The question going into the waiver draft will be, how much of a gamble would it be to keep Lehtonen through the draft and is there a good enough goalie available with the 22nd pick to offset the loss and keep him afloat?