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by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

How's this for cheap philosophy: Every coach will say, whichever goalie is in net on a given night is his "#1 goalie"...that night.

Andrew Raycroft will be starting tonight in Denver. He's been a number one in past (In both Boston and Toronto) and with Kari down for the immediate future, he gets the chance to do so again - as he did for a short spell last December.

To be honest, it is infinitely easier to be a starting netminder than a backup. The confidence is higher. The rhythm of your days, of your preparation, and of the games is better - more familiar. A bad goal against or a bad game are just that when you're a number one. But as a backup, a bad goal surrendered or an off-outing are reason for coaches to doubt and thus tap the brakes on your next start.

And the workload in practice is so much more palatable too - less about being cannon fodder and instead about getting what you need to be ready (Not to mention the shots seem to be kept just a smidge lower).

You know how some athletes state that they are "gamers" and despise practice - Allen Iverson comes to mind - well I bet Andrew would put himself in that category too.

In Vancouver behind Luongo and here behind Lehtonen he's been a good partner and has tried to embrace the role, but it's not been completely comfy, it never is. He gets high marks for being a pro.

So now here comes a sliver of opportunity to show what he believes he is capable of. And should he grasp that opportunity and give this team the netminding it needs right now - as he did early last season - the Stars will be much better for it , and so will the likable Raycroft.

But it's a meritocracy at the NHL level, he's well aware of that. You either stop pucks and win, or you get pushed out of the way.

Time to assume the role again.

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