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They Aren't Killing Kari, And They Aren't Committing Hari-Kari (They're Trying To Make The Playoffs)

by Daryl "Razor" Reaugh / Dallas Stars

There is a Japanese phenomenon known as Karoshi, in which employees are worked to death.

Some seem to think the Stars might be guilty of this in regards to their goaltender.

Tonight in Montreal will be Kari Lehtonen's 10th consecutive start, a season high and a taxing little run considering the schedule no doubt. But here are some things to consider:

#1 Prior to this stretch he hadn't started more than 4 in a row since late October/early November

#2 The big Finn (or 'Iso Suomi') has had plenty of down time. He had over a month without the mental and physical grind of games in December, when he was out with a groin injury. And, like every other Star not named Jamie Benn, he got 5 days away from the rink at the All-Star break in late January.

#3 He's only played 23 games over the past 3 months - Twenty-three.

It's simple to me, go with your best (within reason) until your best simply won't be good enough, ie. mathematically impossible to get into top 8.

And should you get down big relatively early in a game, pull him. Ed Belfour told me that after getting yet another hook when the two were in Chicago, Mike Keenan explained to an - at the time - tempestuous Eagle (as if there is another kind) that if he was going to start Eddie in 70+ games he was going to have to pull him in a somewhat pre-determined number of them. I get that.

Someone had a terrific analogy about coaches and #1 goaltenders. They said starters are like a drug habit coaches can't shake; when the pressure mounts they just keep reaching for the pill bottle.

No need to call Dr Drew on Gully's behalf. Not yet...

Now back to my bento box of broadcast coverage.

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