Goalie nods: Stars turn to Lehtonen, with netminding worries on the rise

AP
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Some facts:

There have been 36 goalies that have started at least 25 games this season in the NHL.

Of those 36, Kari Lehtonen ranks 33rd with a save percentage of .906.

Antti Niemi ranks 35th at .903.

Both those goalies play for the Dallas Stars.

Both combine for a cap hit of $10.4 million.

No other team has committed that much cap space to goaltending.

The playoffs are just over a month away.

Yes, the high-scoring Stars have still managed to go 38-20-7, good for third overall in the NHL. But they’re 1-5-2 in their last eight, and the goaltending is getting much of the blame.

From Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News:

Your Stars have sprung a sizable leak and, yes, I fully realize that Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen are merely the last line of defense in these equations that add up to too many goals. They play behind an undersized and occasionally mistake-prone defense in a system in which coach Lindy Ruff stands out as the rarity in today’s NHL, thinking “attack” more than “defend.”

But you know what?

They are the goalies, and they’re both fully salaried, and in this final stretch of 17 games that starts here Friday night against New Jersey, and then on into the playoffs, they understand their role in the accountability of these things.

Lehtonen is expected to be between the pipes tonight against the Devils. He’s been the better of the tandem lately, but that’s not saying much. His save percentage was a mere .898 in February. Niemi’s was .870.

For the Devils, it’ll be Cory Schneider. He’s had his own struggles lately, but his save percentage remains impressive at .924.

Elsewhere…

Antti Raanta for the Rangers in Washington, versus Braden Holtby for the Capitals. (Henrik Lundqvist is not expected to dress for New York due to neck spasms. Magnus Hellberg has been recalled on an emergency basis. )

— Laurent Brossoit for the Oilers in Columbus, versus Joonas Korpisalo for the Blue Jackets.

Related: The Dallas Stars might have a goaltending problem