For the 2nd week in a row, Dallas Stars netminder, Kari Lehtonen was named one of the NHL’s Stars of the Week. Last week, he was named the number one star after going 3-1-0 with a 1.25 goals-against average, .944 save percentage and two shutouts. This helped to close the gap the Stars created for themselves by going on a 6-game losing streak.
This week, the league recognized Lehtonen as the number 2 star as the representative for Team Finland went 2-0-1 record with a 1.32 goals-against average and .947 save percentage to help the Stars (27-21-10, 64 points) climb into the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Kari is now in Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympics where he will probably be the back-up to Tuukka Rask (although the past two weeks may cause the Finnish brain trust to re-evaluate their goalie situation).
The Stars head into the Olympic break having gone 7-3-2 in their last 12 games and hold down the last playoff spot in the Western Conference in large part to the play from Lehtonen and their defensive corps. Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes was the 10th game in a row where the Stars allowed less than 30 shots.
Yet, there are those who probably feel that the accolades should fall elsewhere. Back in November, Dallas Mavericks radio play-by-play announcer, Chuck Cooperstein chimed in with his assessment of Lehtonen and how he stacks up against other goaltenders in the league:
And that is why no matter what people think, Kari Lehtonen is NOT an elite goalie. Can't fan on that.— Chuck Cooperstein (@coopmavs) November 3, 2013
Looks like Cooperstein won’t be the only one who will start to take notice of the Stars most valuable player. The world is about to take notice as Kari Lehtonen will go up against the very best competition the world has to offer.