18 March 2008

Good assessment of Lehtonen

From Darren Eliot and Joe Beninati during the ATL @ PHI game:

Darren Eliot: Kari Lehtonen really has been the story tonight. 31 shots on goal, unofficially, already for 32. He's been under siege all season long, he and Johan Hedberg. Their numbers haven't been great, but [Kari] has been much better than numbers would indicate over all.

Joe Beninati: Bob Hartley, former coach of the Thrashers, former coach of the Stanley Cup winning Avs in 01, he had Patrick Roy. He said of Kari Lehtonen, his butterfly could be just as good some day. Is it?

Eliot: I think it is, it's more natural. He's grown up playing that style his whole life. Patrick Roy, to his credit, he came up like a stand up goaltender and manufactured his butterfly. So from that standpoint, I would say Lehtonen is just a natural at that position playing butterfly style

Beninati: He was drafted 2nd overall by Atlanta in 2002, Rick Nash went #1. Lehtonen has not lived up to his potential, but he has so much of it to live up to.

Eliot: He's more like Cam Ward, these young goaltenders, they're trying to be the #1, young. Having to go thru that whole maturation process....

Beninati: Most everyone who watches Kari Lehtonen, that includes his new teammate this year, Mark Recchi, they say, definitely all star capabilities.

Eliot: Well he has that unique, innate, natural ability, but what you do with it, becomes the other part of it for everybody in this game. And that is working hard, understanding the nuances that go into that.

Beninati: I enjoyed your SI.com piece about the mindset Martin Brodeur uses to be as good as he is. That's obviously something Kari needs to take a page from.

Eliot: And everyone's different. I mean, Marty's always been able to just turn it on and be as focused and competitive, once the game starts. Lehtonen has to learn how to compartmentalize a little, but that comes with experience. Not too many guys like Brodeur come along, come into the game, and are able to say, "OK it's game time, now I can be in the zone. The rest of the time, I can just be myself."

And then Jeff Carter illustrated "irony," and scored.

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