CEDAR PARK, Texas -- Goaltending has turned into a systematic failure for the Dallas Stars organization.
And I’m not discussing the goaltending duo currently on the NHL roster.
In back-to-back losses this weekend to the Iowa Wild the Texas Stars had a 72-38 edge in shots and were outscored 8-3. Justin Peters started both games and allowed five goals in 20 shots, while Maxime Lagace allowed three goals on 18 shots in relief.
It perfectly captured a frustrating year for the Stars' minor-league system.
This is an AHL team that wouldn’t have contended for a Calder Cup, but could have been a playoff team with average goaltending. That equates to at least two weeks of development lost for prospects like of Denis Gurianov and Dillon Heatherington, since the Stars can’t keep the puck out of the net.
Of the 50 goalies in the AHL that qualify for the league leaderboard, Lagace is 45th in save percentage (.890) and Peters ranks 49th (.876).
Peters was supposed to be the solution after a mix of Lagace, Philippe Desrosiers (.893 save percentage), and Landon Bow (.894) failed to provide stability. The journeyman goalie has been good at times since the trade from Arizona, but any hopes that he could stabilize a playoff run disappeared when he allowed two goals on three shots in the first period on Friday against Iowa.
“They’ve always let up chances, that’s how they play, but it’s incredible how they just can’t get it right on a goalie,” an NHL Western Conference scout said. “You’d think with all the misses, something would have to come through.”
But they haven’t, and the Stars need to conduct a serious search for goaltending depth in this upcoming offseason.
The 6'5 Bow, who was signed an entry-level NHL contract on Friday, is an intriguing option, and has good ECHL numbers with the Idaho Steelheads, but he’s only 21 and needs time to grow in the AHL.
He’d likely be best paired with an AHL veteran next season, one that could play in the NHL in a pinch if needed, a goalie in the Michael Leighton or Mike McKenna mold.
The goalies' struggles are a more pressing issue because they're now hurting the rest of the Stars prospects. Stars general manager Jim Nill has always believed winning in the AHL is part of development, and in the Texas Stars locker room there is a sign that says “We win here.”
That’s not the case with the current situation in the crease.
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro.
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