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Sturm Blog: Special Teams & Goaltending, Right?

by Bob Sturm / Dallas Stars

Bob Sturm
It is certainly an interesting time watching the Stars basically play out the string right now. 

I would be lying if I didn't admit being a bit frustrated with our boys when I see them playing so well on this road trip when it seems a bit too late now.  Where was this execution the week after the Olympic Break?  If they had it then, they would still be alive, but I suppose they are just as frustrated about that as we are. 
They were really great in Los Angeles.  Special teams and goaltending, right?  The Power Play looked superb, and this goes back to the preseason idea that this power play should be unstoppable with the kind of talent the Stars can put on the ice.  Trouble is, the PP has been pretty much at league average.  Average in that category is a killer for the Stars, since this was the one category they could use to equalize some of the departments where they fall well below average (Penalty Kill comes to mind). 
But, as we look ahead, I would certainly hate to throw the baby out with the bath water.  The personnel is here for a Power Play that can be dominant.  I think that is what must be built around.  Take what you do well and build around it.  I would like to see a player who could free Brad Richards up from the point duty, but on the other hand, maybe you don't touch what he has been doing too much on the man advantage.
The other thing that came to mind as I was watching them look so strong at the Staples Center is that this was the first win of the season against the Kings.  3 Wins against the Ducks and the Sharks so far, 2 against the Coyotes, and just 1 win against the Kings.  They are done with Pho and LA, with action against the Ducks and Sharks remaining, of course.  The division dominance (especially with the Kings and Coyotes) has gone on for quite a while, but the quality of the young Kings suggest that they must now be listed as a very tall task to handle for Dallas. 

And as Razor has said all season, it has turned on goaltending for those Kings.  With Jonathan Quick between the pipes (and that 20-year old Norris candidate in front of him) the Kings have kept the light from being lit too often.  Special teams and goaltending.
So, back to our Stars.  Kari Lehtonen has had a chance to start 5 of the last 7 games.  The results have impressed the heck out of me.  I don't want to fall in love with the new girl in the room, but let's examine what he has accomplished:  5 starts, 4-1 record.  11 Goals allowed in 172 shots (93.6% save percentage - Ryan Miller leads the NHL in save percentage for the season with 92.9%).  His confidence is growing, and in 3 of the 5 starts, he has stopped over 95% of pucks coming his way!   He might be playing out of his mind, but the results sure beat the alternative.
I have no idea if he is playing a hot streak or if he is finally healthy and coming into his own, but yes, I want to see more.  Much, much more.  Let's keep kicking the tires.  We have seen what goaltending change has done in Colorado, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.  Maybe, just maybe....
He gets the start tonight again in Anaheim.  9:00pm start.

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