Found October 22, 2013 on
Fox Sports Southwest:
FRISCO, Texas -- Unfortunately, Kari Lehtonen knows all about the dreaded lower-body injury. The 29-year-old Dallas Stars goaltender missed 12 games in fall 2011 due to a groin injury and the talented Finn suffered a similar injury in a win at Winnipeg on Oct. 11, a game where after 35 minutes and he had stopped all 21 Jet shots he had faced, Lehtonen felt something was not right and had to leave the ice.
Lehtonen's injury was again termed of the lower-body variety and with backup Dan Ellis filling in admirably for five of the six games he missed and Dallas' top pick in the 2010 NHL Draft Jack Campbell subbing in for him in the other one, a 6-3 loss at Anaheim on Sunday night, Dallas' top netminder is now ready to return, which he should do on Thursday when the Calgary Flames visit American Airlines Center as the Stars kick off a quick two-game homestand.
"Being a goalie is not painful anymore. I'm able to make saves," Lehtonen said after practice on Tuesday, his first full session with the team since his injury. "Slowly every day we've been able to do more and more and we're almost there."
He was 2-1-0 with a 1.37 goals-against-average and a .953 save percentage at the time of his injury.
Stars' first-year head coach Lindy Ruff has been in the NHL long enough to know what a big lift it can be for an entire team, not just the defensemen, once a No. 1 goaltender returns to the mix after an injury and he expects Lehtonen's return to provide a similar effect.
"I think it's going to be a big boost for us," Ruff said. "He had a real good preseason, had gone good to that point and was pitching a shutout in Winnipeg, so I think any time you get your starter back, it's a big part of your team."
Should Lehtonen return to face the Flames on Thursday and all signs point to him doing so, then he will have missed exactly one-half the amount of games he missed two seasons ago when he was out from late November until late December.
However, even though this injury wasn't nearly as severe in nature as that one and thus the recovery time was quicker, No. 32 admits he didn't use any unorthodox methods to help speed along his recovery, news he delivered with his trademark understated sense of humor.
"It's same thing that always happens, stretch out and something pops. It doesn't feel good and now it's recovered way quicker. That's a good sign. Maybe it didn't go as bad or being in better shape helps to recover faster," Lehtonen said. "I don't know-I didn't take any horse pills or whatever. I didn't call A-Rod's clinic or anything like that, so that's a good sign."
Kari's return to net couldn't come at a better time. The Stars, who dropped two straight during a weekend trip to Los Angeles and Anaheim, now sit at 3-5-0 overall and considering the struggles Dallas has had at the blue line, seeing a stabilizing force like Lehtonen return to the crease can only help turn things around in the back as well.
At least that's how Stars defenseman Jordie Benn sees it.
"Well, it's huge. It's Kari. He's an unbelievable goalie. He's sick. That's what it is, he's sick," Benn said. "He makes everything look easy out there, just makes it like a sixth man out there. He makes it easy for us when we go back to get the puck, so yeah we're excited to have him back."
Over the past few seasons or pretty much since the day he arrived in a trade with Atlanta back in Feb. 2010, having a healthy Kari Lehtonen has been vital to the Stars having a successful season. And even with the coaching change to Ruff, that hasn't changed.
That's because when healthy, Lehtonen, is a top-flight NHL netminder but as Stars fans know the issue has been him picking up a lower-body injury here and there during his tenure in Dallas. Hopefully he's already gotten his one stint on the shelf out of the way early and the affable Finn will be healthy for the rest of the year.
"I hope so," Lehtonen said when asked if he hopes this is his one injury for this season. "When you go out there, you have enough things to think about-the game and how to stop the puck. You can't worry about other stuff. I'm sure the first 10 minutes will be guessing if you're going to be OK, but you just play and that's the way it's going to be."
Of course, that would bode well not only for the Stars' chances to turn things around, but also for them to maybe even make the playoffs in year one of the Ruff era.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
The Dallas Stars have activated goaltender Kari Lehtonen from injured reserve.
Dallas also Monday recalled defenseman Aaron Rome from his conditioning assignment with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League and assigned goaltender Jack Campbell to the AHL squad.
Lehtonen has missed the past five games after being placed on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 11 when he suffered...
On Wednesday morning, the Dallas Stars announced they had placed defenseman Aaron Rome, who has yet to play an NHL game this season, on waivers. Rome, 30, played 27 games for Dallas last season, finishing with five points (0-5-5) and was a minus-2.
Rome had recently returned from a conditioning assignment with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League and practiced with the...
Dan Ellis has problems. Not job problems - he's the Dallas Stars' backup, and he's... ok, fine. He has job problems. He has just one win and three losses so far, a .895 save percentage and a huge 3.60 GAA. Perhaps misplaced priorities are why he's having issues: If you didn't laugh at Dan Ellis for 10 minutes already after I implored you to, just look...
FRISCO, Texas -- For all the changes the Dallas Stars made this offseason, whether it would be hiring a new general manager, head coach, acquiring a number of new players or unveiling a new logo and color scheme, one area where there weren't many changes was at the blue line.
In fact, the Stars made just one change to the back, acquiring veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar from...
Could defenseman Alex Goligoski be moving to forward for the Stars? Photo: Ronald Martinez, GI
To say the least, Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski has enjoyed a less-than-stellar start to the 2013-14 NHL season. Through eight games, he has 0 points and has a hideous -10 rating- dead last in the NHL. Not exactly what the Stars want from their highest paid defenseman (Goligoski...
Kari Lehtonen's injury has had a big effect on the Dallas Stars, whose goaltending has been sorely lacking in his absence.
They expect him back Thursday night when they host the Calgary Flames, who have several players that have had success against Dallas recently.
The Stars (3-5-0) have been without Lehtonen since a 4-1 win at Winnipeg on Oct. 11, which he left due to a lower...
Dallas Stars forward Erik Cole sat out practice earlier today and is listed as day-to-day, as reported by Mark Stepneski of Stars Inside Edge. The nature of the injury remains undisclosed. Until we find out more about what is ailing the winger, it’s difficult to determine for how long he will be out of the lineup.
Cole has played in all eight of the team’s games so far this season...
The glow of the Dallas Stars' resilient win over previously unbeaten San Jose faded over the weekend. The team dropped both ends of its California road trip to Los Angeles and Anaheim to fall to 3-5-0 on the young season. The Stars have lost four of their last five.
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Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt has been suspended for five games without pay for charging Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner during NHL Game No. 125 in Anaheim on Sunday October 20 the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and based on his average annual salary Garbutt will forfeit $14743...
Lots to read into practice today so a fun day for speculation.
First the news. Ryan Garbutt will travel to New York for a 10 a.m. CDT meeting Wednesday with the Department of Player Safety to discuss his hit on Dustin Penner in Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
The fact Garbutt is being called in person almost guarantees a suspension.
Garbutt will travel with Stars GM...
The Ducks managed to pull off a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday to keep their home record perfect and extend their winning streak to seven games.
Trailing 3-1 after the first period to a team who had played the night before, it looked like all good things were going to come to an end. But that is why you have a coach and three periods to play.
After the Dallas Stars suffered their fourth loss in five games, head coach Lindy Ruff suggested to the media that there could be some lineup changes coming. He was particularly unhappy with some of what he's seen on the blueline.
Today at practice, per Stars beat writer Mike Heika and official website writer Andrew Stepneski, Ruff did indeed shake up his defensive pairings...
Jamie Benn had one of the most memorable fights of the 2012-13 season when he battled Joe Thornton. Though that fight will be almost impossible to top, Benn returns this week at the top spot after a nice scrap with Anaheim's Francois Beauchemin.
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5. Robert Bortuzzo...
As you get ready for your week, ask yourself: Did you take your morning dump?
The Top Line
The Avalanche and Penguins are playing what looks to be a pretty decent game this evening. NBC, Sports Illustrated, The Local Take #1, The Local Take # 2
Columbus 3, Vancouver 1 - Luongo or Schneider? No! It was Curtis McElhinney the whole time!
Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt has been suspended by the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety for five games, without pay, for charging Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner during Sunday’s game. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Garbutt will lose $14,743.60, based on his average annual salary. The post Stars’ Ryan Garbutt suspended...