In a surprising move, Coach Lindy Ruff may make a goaltending change for the Stars in Game 4. Antti Niemi looks like he will be the starter Wednesday in St. Paul, reports Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
It comes as a surprise because Kari Lehtonen allowed just one goal on 48 shots through the first two games. In Game 3, he gave up four goals on 24 shots for a .833 save percentage. One of those goals came on the power play.
Ruff didn’t address who his starter would be during Wednesday’s media availability, but he did say:
We stuck with it the whole year, we had a tremendous start in which both guys played well. We had a little bit of a run where they struggled, but the other guy stepped in and did a good job. I feel it couldn’t have gone better. And the reason I feel we finished on top at the end was because both guys played so well. I think if I had probably played one, we might not have gotten to where we wanted to go.
The duo’s .917 even strength save percentage ranked fourth worst in the NHL and the worst among all playoff teams. Together they put together a .904 all-situation save percentage, which is in a three-way tie for 23rd in the NHL and is also the worst save percentage among playoff teams.
Lehtonen’s .964 even-strength save percentage in the post season ranks third among goaltenders who have played at least three games this postseason. It would be a strange move, but the team has put a fairly even divide of starts between the two over the course of the season, even if they favored one over the other during stretches. Niemi grabbed 43 starts total, and Lehtonen had 39.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.