Stars looking for answer in net

kari.jpgIn spite of Marc Crawford’s steadfast optimism that the Dallas Stars
should continue fighting for a playoff spot, their season is most likely
14 games from being over. The Stars would need to get 23 out of a
possible 28 points just to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, and
if you’ve seen the defense this season you realize just how tall a task
that is.

So now the question is what do the Stars do with their
goaltenders? If the Dallas Stars truly think they still have a legit
shot at the playoffs, then they’ll need to ride Marty Turco during that
process. But with the season most likely coming to an end, is it time to
look ahead to next season?

Perhaps. The Dallas Stars will be
starting Kari Lehtonen in net tomorrow
night against San Jose.

“He’s had a good couple
weeks with us now and he’s getting more familiar
and, more importantly, conditioning-wise he’s ready to get the start
and we’re going to give him the opportunity,” Stars coach Marc Crawford
said. “We’re hoping he comes in and plays a strong game.”

“I think I am more ready now than I was in Pittsburgh,” said
Lehtonen.
“Now I just need to go out there and help this team. I am confident I
can do that.”

Lehtonen hasn’t exactly looked very sharp so far in
Dallas, but he’s still working to get back to top playing level after
nearly a year out of the NHL. He’s not going to be at his best right
away, and he needs time to show the Stars what he is capable of. With
the Stars likely facing a long summer, Lehtonen should get the majority
of the starts down the stretch.

Of course, who knows what the heck
Crawford will be doing. Remaining optimistic is fine, and you certainly
hope the coaching staff doesn’t just give up and throw in the towel
with a month left in the season. But blind optimism that hurts the team
in the long run? Well, that I cannot agree with. Bite the bullet and
play Lehtonen, and not just tomorrow night.

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    Yeo was ‘disappointed’ to see Hoppy the rabbit holding a ‘YEO MUST GO’ sign

    Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo argues a call in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators Tuesday, March 17, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Thing have gone from bad to weird in Minnesota, where embattled Wild coach Mike Yeo was “disappointed” to see Zenon Konopka’s rabbit holding a sign that read, “YEO MUST GO.”

    Hey, we told you things had gotten weird.

    Konopka, a former Wild player, took to Twitter last night after Minnesota’s latest loss.

    Here’s what Konopka tweeted:

    And what did Yeo think about that?

    “I really don’t care what he says,” he told the Star Tribune, apparently adding with a laugh, “I will say I was very disappointed to see Hoppy holding that sign.”

    Now, according to the newspaper’s Michael Russo, “Konopka and Yeo had a lot of issues behind the scenes and that’s why [Konopka] ended up on waivers two Januarys ago.”

    Still, that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of Wild fans agree with Hoppy, er, Konopka, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Wild could really, really use a win tomorrow at home to Washington.

    Video: Anisimov, Niskanen, McDavid star in Goals of the Week

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    Nice work from Artem Anisimov and Matt Niskanen this week, but Connor McDavid‘s tally is on a different level.

    You can pretty much bank on McDavid being in Goals of the Year, too. Just saying.

    Oilers demote Nilsson, recall AHL standout Brossoit

    Edmonton Oilers goalie Anders Nilsson, of Sweden, makes pad save against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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    Laurent Brossoit is getting another crack at the NHL.

    On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they demoted Anders Nilsson — who, earlier this year, was carrying the starting gig in Edmonton — and recalled Brossoit from AHL Bakersfield.

    Brossoit, 22, is an interesting story. Taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft (164th overall), he’s really made strides over the last year. He made his big-league debut at the end of last season and performed extremely well, making 49 saves on 51 shots in a loss to San Jose.

    This year, Brossoit was named an AHL All-Star. He’s posted a 14-8-3 record for the Condors thus far, with a 2.70 GAA and .921 save percentage.

    As for Nilsson, his demotion comes after losing the starting gig to Cam Talbot. Nilsson has also struggled to find the good form shown in November, when he made 10 starts and posted a .915 save percentage.

    In his last outing, the lanky Swede allowed three goals on 10 shots in an embarrassing 8-1 loss to the Isles.

    Should the Bruins be sellers at the deadline?

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    Not surprisingly, last night’s 9-2 loss to Milan Lucic and the Kings garnered no shortage of opinions on the state of the Boston Bruins.

    For example, here’s CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty:

    …the Bruins no longer have the kind of roster that can hold up in a ground-and-pound battle against the best of the West. Their 5-9-3 record against the Western Conference this season is clearly indicative of that. Julien pointed that out on Tuesday after watching his team get shellacked by the Kings and the point is valid: it’s probably time for the Bruins organization, the fans, the media and those around the league to wrap their minds around the concept that this season’s Bruins team can’t be held to the standard of past B’s teams.

    They’re younger and quicker in some spots, but they’re also nowhere near as good.

    And here’s ESPN’s Scott Burnside:

    Yes, Boston owns a wild card spot as of Wednesday morning, but is anyone confident this is a team that can stay there, or make a dent if they get in?

    WEEI’s DJ Bean had some thoughts:

    Ultimately, the Bruins won’t need to worry about their record against good Western Conference teams because they sure as heck won’t be meeting them in the playoffs this season. Still, games like Tuesday against the Kings and the pre-break finale against the Ducks provide a nice reminder that despite hanging around in the East, the Bruins’ days of dominant play are well behind them. Given that they haven’t developed many young players and their core is only aging, that next wave of greatness could be pretty far away. 

    And so too did NESN’s Jack Edwards, who opined during last night’s broadcast, “There has been a talent drain in Boston.”

    Edwards was referring (again) to the once-vaunted Bruins defense that has struggled to replace Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton. Further complicating matters, at 38, Zdeno Chara is the third-oldest defenseman in the league.

    Now, granted, it was only one game. Sometimes, a team just lays an egg. The Bruins are still in a good spot to make the playoffs.

    That being said, even if they hadn’t lost so badly last night, the pressing question for the B’s would still be what GM Don Sweeney plans to do ahead of the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

    Take winger Loui Eriksson, a 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent who’s enjoying a fine season with 16 goals and 24 assists. He could net the Bruins a nice return.

    True, losing Eriksson for picks and/or prospects would make the Bruins weaker in the short term. But with that defense, the reality is that the short term may not be salvageable anyway.

    Related: Kevan Miller is not the problem for Bruins, but he does illustrate the problem