By: Josh Clark
DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) – Fresh off of a demolishing at the hands of the St. Louis Blues in game 7 on Wednesday night, the Dallas Stars find themselves in a predicament.
Everyone knew the situation the Stars were in coming into the post-season. They would only go as far as their defense and goaltending would allow them.
The only thing that could save the Stars was their offense, and they lost a huge part of it in Tyler Seguin.
Dallas now faces some tough decisions this off-season, the biggest being what to do between the pipes.
Kari Lehtonen is a premier netminder, sometimes. Lehtonen stood on top of his head to beat the Blues in game 6, but fell flat on his face in game 7.
Maybe the problem was that Lindy Ruff changed goaltenders too much throughout the season and playoffs? Perhaps.
Or, maybe, Dallas has an even bigger problem in that Lehtonen and Anti Niemi are just two average goalies, good enough to play while the offense scores a bunch of goals.
One thing is clear, when there seems to be an issue, Stars GM Jim Nill has been quick to try and address it. Stars fans can only imagine a trade or a signing of a true goaltender.READ MORE: Motorcyclist Killed In Arlington Crash Wasn't Wearing A Helmet
We’ll see what Nill has in store for the the team this off-season.
In the meantime, who should the team target to play in the net? Here’s my suggestions:
1. Stay the course but tweak it: Let Lehtonen or Niemi play the season as the number one goaltender. Whether that means you hold a competition before the season and you move the loser, or you just keep both and tell one he’s the starter, while the other fills in as a normal backup. Lehtonen does have a limited no trade clause and would count as at least a few million dollars against the cap to be let go. Niemi started 43 regular season games, while Lehtonen started 39. In the playoffs, Niemi started three games and Lehtonen started ten. That’s not a good recipe for success.
2. Sign Cam Ward or Frederik Andersen: Ward is coming off a season with Carolina that saw him allow 2.41 goals per game with a 0.909 save percentage in 52 starts. He’d probably cost a pretty good amount of money. Can Dallas afford him and pay the price to let Lehtonen go?
Andersen was a solid goaltender for the Anaheim Ducks. He allowed 7 goals in the 5 games they played against Nashville in the first round of the playoffs. He’s also 26 years old.
Andersen carried a 2.30 goals against average with a 9.19 save percentage for the season.
3. Trade for Marc-Andre Fleury: The Pittsburgh Penguins are having a crisis of their own when it comes to the goaltender position. Their predicament is much different than the Stars, however, as they are deciding who to put in goal between two guys that are no doubt starters in the league. Fleury has spent his entire 11 year career in Pittsburgh, but the new guy in town, 21-year-old Matt Murray is staking his claim this post-season. Murray is 7-2 with a 2.05 goals against average in nine playoff starts, while Fleury is 1-4 with a 2.12 goals against average in five playoff starts. That’s splitting hairs if you ask me.
What you can do in all of this is realize that Lehtonen’s .899 save percentage in the playoffs just isn’t good enough. Neither is a 2.81 goals against average (Niemi’s is even worse (.865 Sv%, 3.29 GAA).
Stars fans will just have to trust in Nill to make the right move in the off-season. Whether it’s for one of these guys or someone else, the team and their fans should be confident in the direction their heading.MORE NEWS: Arlington Father Shawn Andrew Kuhleman 1 Of 2 Killed In Chemical Incident At Plant Near Houston
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