When NHL teams rushed back to action after the lockout, everybody knew injuries would be an issue. And, sure enough, we’ve seen an epidemic of groin muscle strains among goaltenders.
Consider the case of the Dallas Stars. Earlier this season Kari Lehtonen suffered a mild strain, so Cristopher Nihlstorp started in his place against the St. Louis Blues.
Nihlstorp suffered a groin muscle strain during that game, then made it worse by trying to play through and protect Lehtonen.
Richard Bachman replaced Nihlstorp to fill the No. 2 spot Lehtonen – who managed to hold up until Friday, when he suffered a “lower body injury” while playing against the Vancouver Canucks. Now Bachman has stepped in as the starter and Nihlstorp has returned to back him up.
How will they bear up?
After the Calgary Flames torched him for a 7-4 victory, Bachman was reeling. But he had to step in two days later when Lehtonen went down during the first period at Vancouver.
Bachman held off a late Canucks push to secure a big 4-3 road victory. Now he will assume the lead role for at least the next week while Lehtonen heals.
“We all have our strengths and deficiencies, and Bach’s biggest strength is that he can handle the pressure,” Stars goalie coach Mike Valley told the Dallas Morning News. “He can shake off whatever happened and concentrate on the next shot. That really is the key to his game.”
Bachman has shuttled between the Stars and the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, where he was 3-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
Nihlstorp is 17-10-1 with a 2.17 GAA and .914 save percentage is the AHL this season. He was 0-2-0 record with a .918 save percentage and 2.70 GAA in Dallas earlier this season.