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NHL Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars Have Playoff Hopes Pinned On Kari Lehtonen

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars have grown into a team that looks to the goalie to keep the team afloat. This season, that goalie has been Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen is giving up 2.12 goals a game this year as the Stars try to hang on the edges of the playoff race. If Dallas wants to try to sneak into the playoffs, it is going to be because Lehtonen brought them there. While Lehtonen is hurt right now, he will return soon.

Dallas has had a start to remember from a 41-year old Jaromir Jagr, but it is the play of Lehtonen that is getting my attention right now. Lehtonen is the young goalie that every team around the NHL wants on their roster even at age 29. Lehtonen has the ability to become one of the best goalies in the NHL over the next three years if he can continue to improve in Dallas. It is a very difficult Western Conference this season, and with the Stars being 8-7-1 so far, getting well above the .500 mark is going to be key for any team, especially the Stars, to make the playoffs.

The Stars are now through one-third of the 2013 schedule, and with Lehtonen playing great, they can only improve as play around the NHL tightens up as the season continues. Dallas can be a playoff threat if things continue to improve with Lehtonen. Lehtonen is young and has the potential to do a lot in this league. We may be seeing a changing of the guard in net around the NHL, and Lehtonen may be one of those players who lead that charge.

Andy Schmidt is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ASchmidtSports, like his Facebook page or add him to your network on Google.