Not that it has changed much from the start of the season until now. Crawford likes to ride his number 1 tender, obviously. And why not, with Kari playing so well for the most part?
But, it does seem to many like he is overplaying the goaltender they intend on riding through the playoffs should they make it that far so why not rest Kari while you can with Raycraft waiting to swoop in and steal a few wins for us?
The largest reason for this neglect of the back-up has to be the tightness of the conference. Were the team 6+ points up from 8th place, I think you would see Crawford giving Raycroft more starts, but with the team one win or loss away from going from the middle of the playoff competitors to the outside looking in, its hard to give Kari the rest he may need for the playoffs if they even want to make it this season.
I think the coaching staff hopes that the Stars will build on the streak they have going (getting points in the last 5 games including only one loss in the stretch to the Ducks in OT). Then by the end of the season they can start giving Kari a lot of games off if they can perch themselves in the higher echelon of the top-8 teams in the west. If this doesn’t happen then I think you’re going to continue to see Crow ride Lehtonen until the end of the season with as few Raycroft starts as possible, hoping that Kari’s body holds up through the season and into the playoffs.
It’s the nature of the beast in the Western Conference this season and with every Pacific Division team in the mix, it makes it even harder for a team like Dallas who has to put an even heavier premium on points than teams in the other divisions.
The Stars have a chance to stay on a roll against the LA Kings who lost to Vancouver last night 3-1. We will see the Stars roll into LA for yet another late start at 9:30 pm. Stay tuned for the pre-game entry on game-day as well as my prophetic game predictions.