The 2011/12 season was another frustrating one for the Stars, as they failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth straight season. In a series of three articles, I will choose my keys to the Stars for a successful 2013 campaign.
My first key is the Stars’ goaltending unit. It was a unit that shone in a poor season last year.
Something that the Stars can boast is having one of the best goalies in the league in Kari Lehtonen. This guy just keeps getting better and better the more he plays in a Dallas Stars Jersey.
Kari was the glue that kept the whole team together last season, and without him, Dallas’ playoff hopes would have disappeared a lot earlier than they did. On his way to a .922 save percentage, Lehtonen pulled off some mesmerising saves to prevent what seemed certain goals.
The most impressive thing about the 29-year-old Finn is his ability to maintain a great standard of goaltending whilst playing a lot of minutes. Kari plays more minutes than the majority of NHL starting goalies, but he seems to thrive on this and respond admirably.
Last season, Lehtonen found himself a decent understudy in Richard Bachman, the young American. Bachman won eight games last season and record a .910 save percentage.
Looking ahead to the 2013 season, I think the goaltending unit will have their best season yet. I personally feel that the shortened season is going to be a big bonus to the Stars. If Lehtonen can play out of his skin in a 75-game season, how good will he be in a shortened season? He opted to not play in Europe during the lockout, so he should be fresh and raring to go.
A shortened campaign will also take the pressure off Bachman’s shoulders, as Lehtonen should be able to do the majority of the work.
Hockey is all about building a solid base from the back, and I firmly believe that the Stars will be able to do this effectively this season, leading to some decent results.