Ruff calls out Stars goalies for their ‘concerning numbers’

AP
2 Comments

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but there are netminding issues in Dallas.

I know. I know.

In dissecting the Stars’ flat 3-4-2 start to the year, the focus turned — as it often does in Dallas — to the crease, where both Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen have lacked consistency.

More, from the Morning-News:

Both goalies have had their moments of greatness, but after nine games the Stars rank 24th in goals against average at 3.22 and 24th in save percentage at .893. That’s a huge reason for a 3-4-2 start.

“Those are concerning numbers,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “There’s a lot of tough chances in the game, and you have to get big saves. Those two guys know they need to be better.”

By now, it’s almost unnecessary to provide the backstory of Dallas’ goalie conundrum (short version: expensive, not very good, annoys Ruff.)

So let’s focus on something else — like, say, GM Jim Nill potentially calling uncle on his two-goalie experiment, and going in a different direction.

Though he’s got just over $10 million tied up in Niemi and Lehtonen, Nill still has space under the cap to add another goalie (and perhaps figure out the financials this summer.) Jaroslav Halak has been floated as a potential candidate, given he’s now on the trading block. The Ben Bishop rumors have been around for a while.

Previously, talk of blowing up the two-goalie system was cut short because, well, Dallas was doing pretty well. For all the critiques, Lehtonen and Niemi did backstop the Stars to a 50-win campaign last year, and the franchise’s first playoff series win in eight years.

But things are different now.

Injuries have ravaged the Stars, especially at forward, and the once high-flying offense has suffered as a result — it currently sits 26th in the NHL in goals per game. That’s a problem, because often times the solution to suspect netminding in Dallas was to simply out-score it — like last year, when the No. 1 ranked offense averaged 3.23 goals per game.

While the current situation might seem primed for a fix, chances are things will stay the same. It’s still early in the season, Dallas will get healthy eventually, and that should put things back on track.

But if it doesn’t…