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How to Beat the Goalie: Lehtonen

(Photo by: Mike Munden/AP)

Acquired in a trade from the Atlanta Thrashers prior to the trade deadline, it appears Kari Lehtonen has found a good fit with the Dallas Stars organization. The Helsinki, Finland native has suffered from injuries, however, which has set back his growth and development as an NHL superstar goaltender quite a bit.

Lehtonen left Tuesday's game against Los Angeles with a groin injury, but could return this weekend. Earlier this season, Lehtonen missed five games in between February 17-26, including a matchup against the Nashville Predators with a groin injury. Going back to last season, Lehtonen suffered a groin injury in late November that sat him out for an entire month. Obviously, the groin has been, is and will be a problem for him, which can effect his mental state about whether or not he will make that extra reach for the puck or not.

At 6'4", Lehtonen can take up a good portion of the net. He likes to go behind the net and play pucks often, similar to Pekka Rinne, which is the reason he is one of the top active goaltenders with the most assists in the NHL. Also, he has solid mobility and recovery. 

However, there are a couple of flaws in his game. At times, rebounds will pop out into the slot, also known as prime scoring position. If a player flinches a little bit, Lehtonen will go to his knees immediately instead of waiting for the shot.

Here is how to beat Kari Lehtonen.

  • Let him make the first mistake: Again as said earlier, a player can easily fool Lehtonen into dropping to his knees thinking a shot will be coming his way. A little fake is all he needs before the upper part of the net is open.

  • High glove side: Lehtonen's glove hand is too slow to bring it up to his right ear. A good shot in that area will get through because his glove his too low.

  • Make him move side-to-side: Yes, Lehtonen has good movement, but he isn't quick enough to get post to post in time to stop a shot coming back door. With his size, it should be fairly easy.

Kari Lehtonen's career vs Nashville

Name W L OT SO SV% GAA
#32 Kari Lehtonen 5 5 0 0 .920 2.20

Kari Lehtonen's 2012-13 stats

Name W L OT SO SV% GAA
#32 Kari Lehtonen 14 11 2 1 .916 2.67

 

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