Kari Lehtonen looked great at times last season, but 2011-12 might be the year that he truly shows why he was drafted second overall in 2002. The Finnish goalie made the difference for the Dallas Stars once again Friday night, as they beat an almost-as-hot Anaheim Ducks team 3-1.
Lehtonen is 6-0 so far this season, but it’s the workload he’s carrying that really makes his results impressive. Aside from the Columbus Blue Jacket’s dismal efforts, Lehtonen has faced at least 36 shots in every start. He’s been up to the task to a staggering degree, though, allowing just nine goals.
Naturally, the burning question is whether he can keep it up. He has the pedigree to do so, but two worrisome factors cannot be ignored.
Stars fans might grumble at this one, but there was a time when Lehtonen was the Southeast Rick DiPietro: a highly drafted and occasionally promising goalie whose career was riddled with injuries. He was limited to 12 games in 2009-10 and less than 50 in 08-09 and 07-08. Hopefully Lehtonen is over those woes, but the injury risks are legitimate if he continues to face 35+ shots per night and flirts with 70 starts.
Sheldon Souray has been an amazing story so far. He went from a guy whose contract left him buried in the AHL to a solid offensive contributor out of the gate (five points in seven games).
Souray doesn’t heal many own-zone wounds, though. Lehtonen’s dazzling .957 save percentage is bound to drop, so Dallas’ D needs to tighten up. They might not have the personnel to do that, though.
There are a number of factors working against Lehtonen and the Stars, but his talent shouldn’t be denied. We’ll see if that’s enough to clear some serious hurdles this season.
You know a playoff series is starting to rev up when teams can’t even peacefully share an ice surface during warm-ups.
The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to draw a red line in the sand between each other before Game 3, with the two sides exchanging a couple bumps and mean looks.
It’s … honestly a pretty amusing spectacle.
You can watch it all in the video above. Perhaps this GIF will fuel a meme or two:
Brian Boyle downplayed the exchange(s):
The Pittsburgh Penguins recalled tough guys Tom Sestito and Steve Oleksy from the AHL on Tuesday.
This move makes a sense for a couple of reasons.
Most clearly, things are getting nasty between the Penguins and Washington Capitals, so Pittsburgh is bringing in a couple of brutes. Each player isn’t shy about piling up penalty minutes, whether that be in the NHL or AHL.
The other reason: with injuries and Kris Letang‘s suspension, Oleksy could provide some depth. Justin Schultz is motivated to prove himself, yet Oleksy provides a little insurance.
Is it the ideal scenario in a big playoff game? Nope, but if brute force ends up being a factor, the Penguins added some muscle.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to take the series lead for the first time against the New York Islanders, who are trying to regain the advantage on home ice at the Barclays Center after a split in Tampa Bay. You can catch Game 3 between these teams on NBCSN (7 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Strome saga continues, will be a healthy scratch for Game 3
Halak practices fully, hoping to be back soon
Artem Anisimov on Tuesday underwent successful surgery on his injured right wrist, the Chicago Blackhawks announced.
“We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks,” said team physician Dr. Michael Terry in a statement.
The news comes eight days after the Blackhawks were ousted in the first round, eliminated in seven games by the St. Louis Blues.
Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in last summer’s blockbuster deal for Brandon Saad, the 27-year-old Anisimov enjoyed the second 20-goal season of his career and fell just two points shy of his previous career best of 44 when he was with the New York Rangers.
He played the bulk of this season on a line with two highly skilled players in Patrick Kane, the league-leader in points with 106, and Artemi Panarin, named as a Calder Trophy finalist on Monday.
In March, Anisimov was named to Russia’s preliminary roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, although the recovery schedule outlined above should allow plenty of time for Anisimov to be physically ready for the tournament when it begins in September.
Related: Three major challenges facing the Chicago Blackhawks, who won’t be champs in 2016