28 December 2007

Rawhide reads my mind! Let Kari Play!

Rawhide, ILU. TY for posting this. I'll add as well that IMO, which I know is totally not humble when it comes to Lehts, that Kari needs to grow a MUCH thicker skin. And he also needs to KNOW, in his own mind, that he is indeed a superstar goaltender. Not just think it, not just hope it, but KNOW it. And that is something only he can accomplish. So in the end? Yep, he needs to grow up. But I believe in Lehtonen. Do you? More importantly, does he?

Put Kari In The Net Saturday

Yes, you read that correctly. I said put Kari between the pipes Saturday night when the Boston Bruins pay Blueland a visit.

"Why”? You ask…very simple. He needs to.

See, one thing that Kari Lehtonen has been knocked for constantly over his career thus far is that things tend to get between his ears and fester for span of time. When that happens, his play suffers until he gets it all worked out. Maybe he thinks about things too much. Maybe he over-analyses. Heck, maybe he’s just very sensitive. That’s why I suggest keeping him in there.

“But Rawhide, but Rawhide, weren’t you the same person who declared that Hedberg had to be the starter last October? Huh, huh…huh”? You ask…

Yes, but the Thrashers were 0-5-0 at that time and Kari had just given up 6 goals against a Devils team we had scored 5 on and that was on the heals of being smacked 6-0 in Buffalo, Kari giving up 5 of them on 20 shots! Those were desperate times! Today, not quite so much.

In defense of my position, I give you exhibit ‘A’: Last April, after a 4-3 loss in the very first playoff game in Atlanta Thrasher’s history, then-coach Bob Hartley yanked his starter in favor of Johan Hedberg. Moose played well in game 2, giving up one of the flukiest goals in NHL playoff history as the Thrashers lost 2-1. Then, in an even more baffling move then pulling his starting ‘keeper after game one…Hartley put Kari back in for game three when almost everyone, myself included, could have sworn Hedberg was going back in for the game at Madison Square Garden. The result…a 7-0 pounding that spelled the beginning of the end to that short-lived post-season experience. Kari’s frame of mind from the get-go was one of no confidence because he had been pulled due to one loss.

I say at this juncture, give him the start against Boston instead of sitting him and don’t allow him to think about this loss to Florida too much. Besides, it just might be the type of confidence boost the kid needs. He needs to understand that every time he fails to hold a team to 2 or less goals, the rug isn’t going to get pulled out from under him.

Also, it has been said that goalies and relief pitchers in baseball need to have one thing in common; short memories. In baseball if a guy comes out of the bullpen and blows a lead, he knows chances are he’ll have a shot at redemption the very next day. Hockey goalies, while not playing everyday, can do much the same. However, it seems like the last couple times Lehtonen has had a less then par outing, he has sat out the next game. After the 4-0 loss to Toronto, Moose started in Ottawa the next night. After a poor showing in Washington earlier, Moose started the next game against Boston. So it isn’t as though Lehtonen has no reason to play with one eye looking over his shoulder.

A goalie that goes 5 straight games looking solid…only allowing two goals in each of those games… should not have to be concerned of his starter status if the sixth game does not go quite as well.

Lastly, let’s be honest. Kari Lehtonen needs to grow up. Yes, grow up. This is supposed to be his gig, his job, his deal, and his responsibility. It’s time Don Waddell confirms that to him by putting Kari right back between the pipes Saturday and gives him one less thing to concern himself with. He either comes through or he knows at least he was given every chance a coach/GM can give him.

That’s right…it’s time for Kari to grow up. Just like another Thrasher needed to do this year. They slapped an ‘A” on that player’s chest and he now leads the league with 31 goals.

I say, start Kari Saturday. He needs to.

1 comment:

nebcanuck said...

Good article. Good point.

A starter has to play. There's no if, ands, or buts about that. If you want a goaltender to mature, he's going to have to be given the chance to carry the team on his shoulders; Otherwise, how can consistency be expected.

So, here's hoping he plays!