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Kari Lehtonen Becomes Workhorse for Thrashers

The other day when I was collecting data for my "With or Without" post, I clicked on the game-by-game log for Lehtonen. What really jumped out at me was this: since December 31st, 2007 Kari Lehtonen has played in all but 2 Thrashers games to date. That is a stretch of 22 games played out of 24 team games.

2008 - Kari Lehtonen 33 1883 11 18 3 4 99 3.15 1075 976 .908 1

In that stretch since December 31st, Johan Hedberg has played just 225 minutes--which is less than 4 games worth of minutes.

Not only has Lehtonen been playing MORE minutes, he has also been playing BETTER in net. Both his GAA and SV% has gone up markedly since his return to the active roster. The table below illustrates who much better he has been post-injury.

Goals Against Average Save Percentage
Lehtonen pre injury 3.47 .903
Lehtonen post injury 3.03 .910

The million dollar question for Lehtonen is whether he can stay healthy for an entire NHL season. Over his career Lehtonen has been missed long sections of every NHL season but one. Some of those absences have really killed the team's efforts to make the playoffs. In 2005-06 Lehtonen's absence was the single most important factor in the team missing the playoffs by 2 points.