The Dallas Stars absolutely trounced the defending champion Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night, leaving them in ninth place in the Western Conference, just two points out of a playoff spot. That’s the good news. The bad news relates to the status of their starting goaltender, Kari Lehtonen.
Lehtonen played just over 14 minutes of the game against the Kings before he left the game with a lower-body injury. The injury was reported to be “mild”, but is likely something having to do with his groin. For any goaltender, that has the tendency to be a bit more than mild.
Especially a goaltender like Lehtonen, who has had his injury issues in the past. Already having dealt with some injury issues this year, Lehtonen has a bit of a reputation as a player who struggles to stay healthy. That injury he had an issue with earlier this year was also groin-related. He also had a groin issue towards the end of 2011.
While the Stars may be somewhat accustomed to playing without Lehtonen between the pipes, this injury could be one of those nagging types that could hinder the Stars’ ability to make a serious run at a postseason berth here in the home stretch.
Lehtonen is one of the most worked goaltenders in the game, having started 30 games this year even with the groin injury earlier this year. While his numbers aren’t as impressive as they’ve been the last few years, he’s still one of the game’s more underrated goaltenders.
We’ll have to see if this injury to Lehtonen turns out to be something that causes him to miss time. He has a history of groin issues, so it’s probably safe to say that if this injury is something that has to do with his groin, it probably cannot be considered “mild”.