Heading into the off-season, Dallas Stars management face a difficult decision regarding the state of their goaltending. Depth between the pipes was a serious issue, as the Stars failed to find a suitable backup for struggling starter Kari Lehtonen. As a result, they finished the season 27th in goals against.
In a recent chat with Stars fans, the Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News speculated over Lehtonen’s future. While acknowledging the 31-year-old is a “35-win, .917 goalie” who would be difficult to part with, Heika is wavering on whether Lehtonen can regain his form with the Stars.
Heika’s concern is understandable. While Lehtonen won 34 games for the Stars, his goals-against average (2.94) and save percentage (.903) was among the worst for NHL starting goalies. It didn’t help that Lehtonen’s backups (Jhonas Enroth, Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas) fared little better, though Enroth improved in his final games of the season.
Perhaps Lehtonen would benefit from a fresh start, but moving him won’t be easy. In addition to his woeful stats, he’s got three years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. He also has a no-trade clause, though that becomes a limited one starting in 2015-16. Heika wonders if the Detroit Red Wings would be interested in a swap of Jimmy Howard or if Carolina would want to trade Cam Ward straight up for Lehtonen. Read more
It’s amazing how things will change by Saturday night. Connor McDavid will know which NHL team he will belong to. The McDavid parents will know in which city their son’s adult life will begin to unfold and flourish. Vendors will go crazy preparing McDavid jerseys, signs and apparel.
(And make no mistake, McDavid will be the first overall selection in the June 26-27 NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida. There will be zero drama with that pick.)
The NHL’s draft lottery will be televised Saturday night at 8 pm. The proceedings will begin about 7:30, but the drawing of lottery balls will take place about a half hour later. McDavid’s most likely destination is a city other than Buffalo, but Buffalo has the best odds of all the 14 non-playoff teams. Here’s how it works.
Not only did Jamie Benn win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer, he did it while hobbled by a hip injury that will require off-season surgery and at least four months of rehabilitation.
Benn’s response when asked about the injury? “I was healthy all year,” Benn told Mark Stepneski of Stars’ Inside Edge. “I played every game this year. That’s it.”
Well, that’s not quite all there was to it. Stars GM Jim Nill, in his season-ending meeting with media, said Benn not only played injured but required two or three shots to stay in the lineup, never complained about the injury and even found his way onto the ice on nights when the staff believed he would be watching from the sideline. Read more
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn scored three goals and added an assist in the last game of the season to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer on Saturday.
Benn’s incredible performance in the 4-1 win over Nashville moved him out ahead of Sidney Crosby and John Tavares to win the league’s scoring race with 87 points.
What’s even more amazing is that Benn scored all four points without linemate Tyler Seguin to dish him pucks. Seguin was scratched from the game because he was late for practice on Friday.
Watching the NHL’s action play out Thursday night was kind of like covering a political election and seeing the polls come in and herald a new leader for a new era. In one polling station, you had the Boston Bruins – the league’s top regular-season team last year – falling to the Florida Panthers and putting their playoff fate in the hands of the surging Ottawa Senators and wobbly Pittsburgh Penguins (who, like the Bruins, won a Stanley Cup not too long ago); In another station, you saw the Calgary Flames hold off the desperate Los Angeles Kings and register a 3-1 win, eliminating the defending Cup champions from the post-season and securing a playoff berth for the Winnipeg Jets.
Change was everywhere, and more change could be coming. Depending on what happens Friday and Saturday, the Eastern Conference playoff picture could have three teams (the Sens, Capitals and Islanders) who weren’t in the 2014 post-season, and the Western Conference will have four teams (Vancouver, Nashville, Calgary and Winnipeg) in this year’s playoffs who weren’t there last year. A 43.75 percent playoff turnover rate is one thing, but it’s not just the fact there are potentially seven new post-season teams this year that’s so intriguing; it’s the great distance teams are falling that has NHL executives clenching their teeth and always worrying about what’s ahead. Read more
If there weren’t enough reasons for Boston Bruins fans to lament the Tyler Seguin trade, watching what the Dallas Stars sniper can do from his perspective will give even the most jaded of hockey fans new appreciation for Seguin’s skills and make Bruins fans wish they could take back that trade all over again.
In another installment of the GoPro “On the Ice” series, Seguin starts by showing his stick skills with two pucks, but quickly ups the ante to a third without missing a beat. Like Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane in videos before, Seguin’s seemingly perpetual movement is topped only by a lightning quick release that leaves little wonder why he has scored 35 goals this season. Check it out: Read more
News Wednesday that actor and famous hockey/Boston Bruins fan Denis Leary was producing for IFC a new series centered around an amateur hockey team should inspire puck fans to pitch more hockey-themed shows to TV networks in the hope they might get picked up and put on air. Here, I’ll show you what I mean, using titles of TV series as examples:
The Walking Dead An outbreak of a mysterious virus ravages the Sabres, Coyotes and Maple Leafs and leads to locals staggering aimlessly and dead-eyed in the streets in Buffalo, Arizona and Toronto. While death sometimes seems to be a merciful option for our heroes during such a bleak time, they bravely continue to search and hope for a place to settle and grow. Read more
It’s all fun and games until someone gets a puck in the eye. But it’s fun and games once again if that puck happens to get stuck and appear to be a rubber eye patch, like it did for Dallas Stars defenseman Patrik Nemeth.
Early in the second period of Monday’s game against the Flames, a bouncing puck entered the neutral zone and was chopped at by Calgary’s Jiri Hudler. The puck went sailing up and into the face of Nemeth, but somehow, instead of hitting off of his visor or catching him in the cheek, the puck managed to get wedged between Nemeth’s visor and cheek. The puck remained stuck until Nemeth pulled it out, all the while laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation: Read more