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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    Ducks add Konowalchuk, Morrison to Carlyle’s staff

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    Anaheim has added two assistants to Randy Carlyle’s coaching staff — longtime NHLer Steve Konowalchuk, and AHL Manitoba assistant Mark Morrison.

    Konowalchuk, 44, comes over after a successful stint as the bench boss in WHL Seattle. Last year, he led the Thunderbirds to a league title and a spot in the Memorial Cup. He has history with Carlyle from their days together in Washington — Konowalchuk as a player, Carlyle as an assistant coach.

    Konowalchuk also has NHL experience, having served two years as an assistant in Colorado.

    Morrison, 54, has spent the last six years with the Moose/IceCaps, Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate. Prior to that, he was the head coach of ECHL Victoria.

    Today’s moves after the Ducks parted ways with Paul MacLean. He’d been with the organization for two seasons, serving under both Carlyle and Bruce Boudreau.

    Report: Senators plan to keep Phaneuf, after asking him to waive NMC

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    It’s been an interesting few weeks to say the least for the Ottawa Senators and Dion Phaneuf.

    He was asked to waive his no-movement clause ahead of the expansion draft, which would’ve left him unprotected had he agreed to that request. There were also reports of trade interest in Phaneuf, who is 32 years old and with four years remaining on a pricey seven-year, $49 million contract.

    Phaneuf denied Ottawa’s request to waive, and the Senators ended up losing Marc Methot to Vegas, which then flipped him to Dallas in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and prospect goalie Dylan Ferguson.

    Now, it’s been reported, the Senators plan to keep Phaneuf after the market for him apparently to cool off.

    What has transpired over the past few weeks likely makes for some awkward conversations down the road.

    “They’re not easy conversations when you ask someone (to waive a no-move clause), but he understood,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion told Sportsnet.

    “It was a man-to-man conversation. There was no bulls**t. When we talked to him I explained to him: ‘I said it’s not that you’re the fourth-best defenceman on this team, Dion.’ It’s ‘we want to try to top keep our top-four intact.’”

    Phaneuf played in 81 regular season games for Ottawa in 2016-17, scoring nine goals and 30 points. He scored one goal and five points in 19 playoff games.

    The Senators currently have six defensemen under contract for next season, with their star Erik Karlsson facing a four-month recovery from offseason foot surgery. With Methot gone, prospect blue liner Thomas Chabot should also have quite an opportunity to crack the Senators’ lineup next season.

    Preds’ Ellis says he underwent ‘minor procedure’ after Stanley Cup Final

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    Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis made an appearance on a Hamilton, Ont., television station Wednesday, sporting a large brace running almost the full length of his right leg.

    Ellis left Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return in what was a blowout loss to the Penguins. He did, however, return to the lineup for Game 6, but Nashville’s playoff run came to an end on home ice with a stunning 2-0 loss.

    During his appearance on CHCH, Ellis said he had a “minor procedure” done on his right leg.

    “It looks worse than it probably is,” he continued. “Hopefully be back on the ice in no time.”

    Predators general manager David Poile had acknowledged in the days following the Stanley Cup Final loss to Pittsburgh that Ellis undergoing surgery was a possibility.

    From The Tennessean:

    Ellis played in each of Nashville’s 22 playoff games, but coach Peter Laviolette said following the team’s season-ending loss Sunday that Ellis’ ailment was “pretty serious.” Poile said that more should be known next week.

    The Predators made the playoffs as the second wild card team in the West, but swept Chicago in the first round and surged all the way to the final. Their top-four defensemen, including Ellis, played such a pivotal role in the team’s historic postseason. Ellis finished third on the Predators in playoff scoring, with 13 points in 22 games.

    Carolina re-signs ‘physical, smart’ McGinn — two years, $1.775 million

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    After a breakout campaign, Brock McGinn has cashed in with the Hurricanes.

    McGinn has signed a two-year, $1.775 million extension, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal carries a $887,500 average annual cap hit, and comes on the heels of a campaign in which he scored 16 points in 57 games, averaging 12 minutes per night.

    “Brock took a step forward last season and was a regular presence in our lineup,” GM Ron Francis said in a release. “He is a young player who plays a physical, but smart brand of hockey, and can contribute offensively.”

    McGinn, 23, is the youngest of the McGinn brothers. Tye spent last year with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse, while Jamie wrapped the first of a three-year deal in Arizona.