November 27, 2011
Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris(notes) cranked a shot from the blue line. Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen(notes) stretched to his right to block a shot that wouldn't have counted — the linesman whistled it offside — and then fell on his goalie stick, rolling slightly onto his left shoulder, looking like he was in significant discomfort.
Coach Glen Gulutzen said after Saturday night's 3-0 loss to the Coyotes that Lehtonen was day-to-day with "a little bit of a groin pull there." On Sunday, the Dallas Stars announced they placed Lehtonen on injured reserve and recalled goaltender Richard Bachman(notes).
Given his injury history, and his often stellar play for the Stars so far this season, you can forgive Dallas fans for a little panic over Lehtonen's health. As he goes, so goes the Dallas season. But it's something they're learning to live with.
Here's the injury from last night's game:
"'Razor' (Raycroft) has been the guy before, and that's why we got him, for him to handle situations where we felt like we need two goalies. He's going to be the guy here Monday for sure and if he has to carry the ball for the week then I have no problems with doing that and I don't think he does either."
And Raycroft on … well, Raycroft:
"I've been a starter in this league and to be honest, feel more comfortable with it most of the time. You can get into a bit of a rhythm, I don't know how it's going to play out here, but it looks like I'll get a couple of games in a row, which will be nice to feel a rhythm and kind of get a place of play down, and get better ready, I'm looking forward to that."
Are Dallas Stars fans feeling the rhythm? Brandon Worley of Defending Big D takes the pulse:
It was interesting to see the reaction of Stars fans to the injury, with some immediately calling this a lost season with Lehtonen between the pipes. To be fair, it looked to be a much more significant injury at the time and we have since learned that Lehtonen's groin was injured and not his knee and that it doesn't appear to be incredibly serious.
Andrew Raycroft has yet to win a game this season for the Dallas Stars, with Lehtonen being between the pipes for each of the team's 13 wins. Raycroft has been susceptible to long-range shots sneaking through at times and has been far from perfect in net, leading fans to panic a bit with the prospect of him playing long term. Yet Raycroft has played well overall this season,
Yet he's also Andrew Raycroft ...
While this injury seems mild, Kari Lehtonen's groin has correctly been termed "wonky" in the past. It's also been called "troublesome." It's one of the reasons GM Joe Nieuwendyk was met with skepticism when he inked Lehtonen to a three-year deal in 2010. Said Nieuwendyk at the time: "If we can get Kari on a strong workout program and get him consistently healthy, we'll see a very strong goalie."
As long as Rick DiPietro(notes) is on an NHL roster or the IR, Lehtonen will never be the most oft-injured goalie in the League. It's not ever a fair comparison: Lehtonen has shown flashes of brilliance when healthy, and as recent as this season. DiPietro hasn't won over 30 games since 2007.
This may just be a bump. This may not be part of the systemic series of injuries that have plagued Lehtonen. But this won't be the last time Dallas fans' hearts skip a beat with him crumpled in his own crease.