Stars lean heavily on Lehtonen

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Much of the optimism surrounding the Dallas Stars focuses on a bright future. If you’re looking for reasons to feel positive about the present, you’d likely be best served to start in net.

Quiet Star

It’s strange to call the second pick of a draft* an “under the radar” player, but that seems appropriate for Stars’ franchise guy Kari Lehtonen.

The 29-year-old has dazzled at times between his days with the Stars and Atlanta Thrashers, yet he has just two playoff games on his resume. Injuries and weak supporting casts have mired him in relative obscurity despite putting up nice numbers. (He’s had at least a .911 save percentage since the 2006-07 season.)

For the last few seasons, the Stars’ fate has been tied to Lehtonen’s play, and that will likely remain the same in 2013-14.

On the bright side, Dallas finally gave him a capable backup in Dan Ellis.

Dan Ellis problem solver

The 33-year-old might be best remembered for generating an Internet meme or two, but he’s an experienced No. 2 guy who isn’t likely to generate many goalie controversies. Think of him as the Martin Biron to Lehtonen’s Henrik Lundqvist.

While the Stars’ defense seems like it could be strong in the big picture, it’s probable that the franchise will hope that its goalies can clean up messes most nights next season. The good news is that they have a duo with a strong chance of getting that done.

* – Lehtonen went No. 2 in 2002, behind Rick Nash and right before Jay Bouwmeester.

More Dallas Stars day at PHT

Defense shows promise

Tyler Seguin is the wildcard

Center of change

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?