DALLAS, TX – NOVEMBER 22: Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars blocks a shot on goal against the Los Angeles Kings in the first period at American Airlines Center on November 22, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Dallas media slams Kari Lehtonen for Stars’ struggles

The Dallas Stars were a team nearly every hockey website and blog (including this one) believed would be a legitimate contender in 2014-15. As the season winds down, it’s pretty clear that’s not the case as the Stars are struggling to stay out of the basement of the Central. Why have the Stars been so disappointing? There are a ton of reasons, but the media in Dallas has decided to focus in on one man: Kari Lehtonen.

Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas News is fed up with Lehtonen’s play this season and he’s ready to call out the goaltender. The headline “Stars’ Kari Lehtonen hasn’t even been close to a good goaltender this season” sums up the article fairly nice, but the full post may be even more critical.

“So, for the time being, Lehtonen is the answer to the question of who’s in net for Dallas even if he’s not answer to this team’s problems in net.

Lehtonen doesn’t fight the weight issues that troubled him in Atlanta and in his first season in Dallas. But he still fights the puck, and this season he has been a loser too often.

Lehtonen’s goals-against average of 2.96 is his worst in his five full seasons with the Stars. The same goes for his .904 save percentage. When you’re ranked 27th in goals-against among the 30 teams’ primary goaltenders, you’re more likely the problem than the answer.”

Based on strictly GAA and save percentage, Lehtonen is having his worst year in five full seasons with the Stars. Plenty of other stats help support that argument, but it doesn’t take much analysis to reveal that he hasn’t been very good.

Ignoring statistics entirely, it’s easy to see that Lehtonen doesn’t have “that edge” we’ve seen in previous seasons. He almost looks uncomfortable in goal, as if he isn’t quite sure of his positioning. Confidence definitely appears to be an issue.

Of course, it’s not fair to pile all of the blame on Lehtonen. The Stars are allowing 30.8 shots per night (24th in the NHL) and the team’s defense deserves to be ridiculed. We’ve seen what can happen when the local media circles a player (cough – Evander Kane – cough), so articles like the one in the Dallas News may start a slippery slope.

Lehtonen has three years and an annual cap hit of $5.9 million left on his contract. Those numbers don’t bode well if the Stars want to move him, but it’s clear the media – and a lot of fans – are ready for a change.

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.