December 15, 2011
After three straight wins, Richard Bachman, the hockey player, is making strides to write a name for himself.
When Kari Lehtonen went down with a groin injury on Nov. 26, the Dallas Stars were in the middle of a stumble after beginning the season a franchise-best 11-3-0. With Andrew Raycroft struggling in relief of Lehtonen, Bachman stepped in last Saturday and has stabilized the Stars' net issues for the moment.
Lehtonen isn't expected to return until after Christmas, but in the meantime, the 24-year old Bachman, who only had 10 minutes of NHL duty before this season, is 3-0-0 with a 0.90 GAA and .970 save-percentage after a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
If you ask Stars Coach Glen Gulutzan or any of Bachman's teammates, one word continually comes up: calm.
Despite heavy pressure in front of him, a guy with five total games of NHL experience in two seasons didn't overreact to traffic in front, and he put himself in position to not end up flailing in the crease.
"He's a calm guy," said Gulutzan. "He plays that way most nights. I only saw him one time tonight where he got a little scrambly there, but that happens. I like the huge save on the PK at the end; he made a great save for us. It ended up getting us two points. I like his demeanor in the net. I always have."
Gulutzan would know that demeanor; he coached Bachman the past two seasons with the Texas Stars of the AHL and said the rookie netminder has stayed consistent in his approach to the game.
"He's a steady guy and he's a good rebound control goalie," Gulutzan said. "He's not the biggest goalie you're going to see in the NHL, but very clean and very composed in his and he's given us a couple good games here."
As the Stars travel to New Jersey to face the Devils on Friday night, Gulutzan and his staff will make a decision on whether Bachman or Raycroft will get the start before heading home to kick off a four-game homestand on Monday.
Whether or not Bachman gets his fifth start in a week on Friday, his confidence is increasing the longer he's with the Stars.
"I'm just trying to enjoy it," said Bachman.
"It's still easy to get up for."