Welcome to the first edition of Hits & Misses, a series focusing on the Dallas Stars’ 2011-2012 season and the various decisions, for better or worse, that affected the team throughout the year. First up is Richard Bachman becoming the new backup goaltender in Dallas following Andrew Raycroft’s rough fall from grace.
It was a moment where every single Stars fans held their breath, terrified that they had just witnessed the entire season come crashing down. The moment I am referring to is Kari Lehtonen‘s groin injury in a contest against the Phoenix Coyotes on November 26th. The team’s backup goaltender, Andrew Raycroft, had accrued an 0-4 record thus far, and it’s safe to say confidence in the former Calder Trophy winner was middling at best. The Lehtonen injury came just a few minutes into the first period, and Raycroft took over and allowed three goals, dropping his record to 0-5 en route to a 3-0 loss. Thankfully, Lehtonen’s injury wasn’t considered severe enough to keep him out for much more than a month. In the mean time, Raycroft was handed the starting job and Texas Stars goalie Richard Bachman was called up to be the new backup.
Surprisingly, things didn’t start that bad for Raycroft, who performed splendidly in two straight games against Colorado and Ottawa, allowing just three goals on 71 combined shots, giving the Stars a small two game winning streak to try and build some momentum with. It was a terribly brief period of time when Stars fans felt like they could exhale and that things might be alright after all. But Raycroft faltered in a wild game against the New York Islanders, allowing five goals, four courtesy of Matt Moulson, in his first loss since taking the starting job. The Stars returned to action five days later against the San Jose Sharks, and it was in this game that Richard Bachman would get his chance and run away with it.
Raycroft lasted two periods, allowing five goals in that time. In case you were wondering, that adds up to 10 goals on 42 shots over two games, not encouraging to say the least. Coach Glen Gulutzan mercifully pulled him and let Bachman finish the game. Bachman was perfect, stopping all 11 shots he saw in the final period. Though it was not enough to help the Stars come back for a win, it was enough to secure him the next start two days later against the Los Angeles Kings. What followed was a coming out party for the goaltender. Richard Bachman started 8 straight games, including a back to back series, and produced a solid 5-2 record (though he was pulled in his final start before Lehtonen’s return against St. Louis on December 26th).
Kari Lehtonen returned to the ice on December 29th, but Bachman’s impact had been felt, and Andrew Raycroft was the odd man out. Bachman won the backup job from Raycroft and he was sent down to finish his season, as well as his career with the Dallas Stars organization, in Austin with the AHL’s Texas Stars. Bachman saw four more starts over the remainder of the season and with a 2-2 record, he continued to prove himself a dependable backup goaltender.
The decision to send Raycroft down and give the full time backup job to Bachman was an unarguable HIT for the Dallas Stars. Bachman, who was set to become an RFA this summer, earned himself a new contract and a decent raise. With the “goalie of the future” in Jack Campbell ready to play his first full pro season in the AHL and recent signing Christopher Nihlstorp expected to compete for the backup job this upcoming year, no one can quite know what the future holds for Richard Bachman as a Dallas Star, but the team has found themselves a goalie who can be a dependable backup and a more than capable starter if need be.
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