Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff and GM Jim Nill have spoken in the wake of Wednesday’s disastrous Game 7 home loss to the Blues and, not surprisingly, neither wanted to criticize Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi or the club’s maligned two-goalie system.
First up, it’s Ruff. From the Dallas Morning-News:
On if he will push for the two-goalie system to continue going forward
“I think that it helped. We changed a lot of things with Kari in his game. There was a big adjustment period with the advice that I have for the position with bringing in a new goalie coach and him working with the new goalie coach and the new goalie coach’s ideas. And we also said that during that stretch, both guys would have an opportunity to grab the ball and run, and I don’t think that’s going to change.”
On if another year of Kari Lehtonen working with Jeff Reese will produce more results
“Right now, Kari and Antti are our goalies. I’ll say it again, we wouldn’t have got to Game 7 if it wasn’t for the play of our goalies in Game 6.”
On if the thinks there needs to be one starting goalie going forward
“No, I don’t. You can write any story you want, we used two guys the whole year. They were comfortable with it. It might have been the reason we got to where we got to. It’s not the reason we lost.”
Next up, Nill, who was asked during his exit interview if he’d decided to come back with a two-goalie setup next season:
I’m not going to comment on any of those things right now.
We’re going to sit down and I want to talk to the players, I want to evaluate the organization, where it’s at. We’ll make those decisions going forward.
Both Ruff and Nill were quick to point out that Dallas won the Central Division, finished atop the Western Conference and were one game away from the conference final with the two-goalie system.
There are problems with the setup. It’s OK to have a two-goalie system, so long as both goalies play well. That wasn’t the case in Dallas, as both were average at best during the regular season, and weak in the playoffs — Lehtonen finished the postseason with an .899 save percentage, Niemi with an .865.
Then there’s the cost. Lehtonen and Niemi carry a combined $10.4M cap hit through 2018. That’s a lot of scratch.
There’s also the stress the setup puts on Ruff, especially come playoff time. He was forced to answer endless questions about who his starting goalie would be through the opening two rounds, and it seemed to wear on him after a while.
It’s fair to start wondering if Ruff and Nill are on the same page with regards to the two-goalie system and, if they are, maybe the idea isn’t to stick with it.
Maybe it’s to toss the idea altogether.
Other notes from Dallas’ media session:
— Tyler Seguin’s injury was a “severely injured calf muscle.” The Stars can’t say for sure if it was a result of the Achilles cut, but they think it was, possibly a connected muscle injury.
— Nill said he would like to lock in an extension for captain Jamie Benn by July or August. Benn has one year left on his current deal ($5.25M annually) and is expected to get a sizeable raise, eclipsing Jason Spezza ($7.5M) as the club’s highest-paid player.