Richard Bachman Getty

Opportunity Bachs: Rookie wins Stars’ backup gig, Raycroft waived

What a difference a month can make.

Thirty days ago, it looked as though backup Andrew Raycroft would be Dallas’ temporary No. 1 goalie after Kari Lehtonen was lost to a groin injury. Raycroft’s lone challenger was unheralded rookie Richard Bachman, who had nine minutes of NHL experience.

Yet Bachman provided stellar play and wrestled the starting gig away from Raycroft. Now, with Lehtonen set to return to action on Thursday against Columbus, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk is putting Raycroft on waivers — meaning Bachman is the new No. 2.

“I think through his body of work, he’s earned the opportunity to move forward at this level,” Nieuwendyk told Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s a process, and he’s still learning, but he has done a lot of good things and we feel he has the ability to be even better.”

Raycroft, 31, could be picked up by another team by 11 a.m. Thursday. While his numbers aren’t great this season — 2-8-0 with a 3.52 GAA and .898 save percentage — he’s still an intriguing option.

First, he’s affordable. There’s one year left on his deal that pays $650,000 annually.

Second, he’s coming off two pretty decent seasons. In 2009-10, he went 9-5-1 with a 2.42 GAA and .911 save percentage in Vancouver; last year he went 8-5-0 with a 2.83 GAA and .910 save percentage in Dallas.

Third, there are teams desperate for goaltending help — Columbus and Tampa Bay, most notably — and acquiring Raycroft is about as inexpensive and low-risk as it gets.

If no team claims Raycroft, it’s off to AHL Texas.

“It could be a good thing for Andrew,” Nieuwendyk said. “It’s certainly not easy for him, but I do believe it’s also an opportunity. He can get the chance to play some and maybe get into a groove.”

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.