Now that Ilya Bryzgalov has made peace with the universe (and set a Flyers shutout record in the process), it’s time to pay attention to another shutout streak — the one belonging to Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars.
As Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports, Lehtonen is on fire. He’s 8-0-1 in his last nine starts with a 1.29 GAA and .955 save percentage.
He also hasn’t allowed a goal in 128:32.
While he’s got a ways to go before topping Bryzgalov — the Master of the Universe went 249:43 without allowing a goal — Lehtonen is just 60:08 away from breaking the Dallas franchise mark, set by Cesare Maniago in 1967-68.
Lehtonen is going to have plenty of opportunity to break the record, too. Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan confirmed he’ll start the 28-year-old Finn in each of Dallas’ next four games against the Blackhawks, Coyotes, Canucks and Flames.
“I think for any team right now, the goaltending becomes a real big factor,” Gulutzan said. “It’s really is like playoffs now where everything tightens down. There’s a big spotlight on your goalie now and the other team’s goalie.
“Kari’s rested. He’s going to get tonight [vs. Chicago] and he’s going to get the next four games. It’s important, and we feel we’ve got a better chance than most people because we’ve got Kari Lehtonen.”
Lehtonen’s streak started in the third period of a 4-3 shootout win over San Jose on Mar. 8 — a game in which he made 45 saves. That was followed by shutout victories over Anaheim and Minnesota, pushing Dallas atop the Pacific Division, two points clear of Phoenix and three clear of San Jose.
As for Lehtonen’s streak — he’s still got a ways to go to catch Brian Boucher, the NHL’s all-time leader. His record of 332:01 was set in 2003-04, which included five consecutive shutouts.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.