Consider: of the 33 NHL netminders with at least 25 starts, Niemi’s .904 save percentage is higher than only one — Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier (.898). Lehtonen’s .906 save percentage isn’t much better, ranking 30th.
And that’s a problem, because no team in the entire NHL has committed as much cap space to goaltending as the Stars have for this season. The hope in bringing Niemi aboard was to have two capable starters. It’s hard to say they’ve even got one right now.
Last night at American Airlines Center, Niemi allowed three goals on Winnipeg’s first eight shots. He was pulled after 20 minutes and replaced by Lehtonen, who allowed three goals on 20 shots. The Stars lost, 6-3.
“I thought our defense had a tough night with some breakdowns,” coach Lindy Ruff told reporters. “I thought our goaltending had a tough night.”
Which is always the debate when it comes to the Stars and their goals-against average — is it team defense, or is it goaltending?
Can’t it be both? As a team, Dallas has surrendered 22 goals in it last four games (1-3-0).
The bottom line for the Stars is they’ve dropped to 23rd in GAA (2.84), and you can see the company they’re keeping:
So much for being back on track.