Despite lowly numbers, Ruff sees Lehtonen-Niemi tandem as ‘successful’ for Stars

AP
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Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff sees two good things about having Antti Niemi aboard this season.

One, despite a save percentage of just .901, the 32-year-old goalie has managed to start 39 games and win 22 times.

Two, because Niemi has been able to make all those starts, Kari Lehtonen hasn’t been overworked like he was last season.

“Last year, we couldn’t get a win out of our backup goalie and we overplayed our No. 1 goalie, and that didn’t work at all,” Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “So I think overall, it’s been a win-win for us. I know our overall numbers aren’t as good as some of the other goalies in the league, but I look at the number of wins and say that the goalies have been successful.”

At .906, Lehtnonen’s save rate isn’t much higher than Niemi’s. In fact, it’s only higher than four of the 38 goalies league-wide that have started at least 25 games this season, with Niemi right at the bottom.

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But like Ruff said, the high-scoring Stars have managed to win more than they’ve lost, and that’s the bottom line.

The lingering question — one that will be answered soon enough — is whether that way of winning can carry over into the playoffs.