Tuesday update: A good practice for Lehtonen

December, 27, 2011
12/27/11
1:57
PM CT
FRISCO -- Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who has missed the last 12 games with a groin injury, went through full practice today as he moves closer to returning to the lineup.

Lehtonen got more work in today's practice, getting one of the nets for a longer period of time than in his recent practices.

"The first drill I wasn't too excited, but after that I settled down and started feeling very good," Lehtonen said. "It was nice. I got more shots, so that was good. We've got tomorrow and we'll see where we are at, but it was really good today. It was good to get that out of the way, the first real practice with lots of shots."

The Stars still haven't set a definitive return date for Lehtonen, who was injured in a November 26 game at Phoenix.

"He's very close. I haven't talked to him yet today and today was kind of our big marker day because he did take one net by himself for a long period of time," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. "We'll know by this afternoon or tomorrow morning how he feels and go from there."

Once Lehtonen is ready to play the Stars will have to make a decision on whether Richard Bachman or Andrew Raycroft will serve as the backup to Lehtonen.

"We not going to carry three (goaltenders), so I don't know what's going to happen," Gulutzan said. "But until Lehts gets to where he is going to go, then a decision will be made. Joe (Nieuwendyk), Frank (Provenzano) and Les (Jackson) will make that decision, I'm sure along with myself. We've talked about it a little bit, but until Lehts is a fully capable guy we haven't sat down and discussed it."

If Lehtonen is ready to return Thursday against Columbus and the Stars decide to send Raycroft to the AHL, it appears they'd have to put Raycroft on waivers Wednesday so that he could clear in time to open a roster spot for Lehtonen to come of injured reserve. Bachman could go back to the AHL without having to go through waivers.

Robidas, Souray don't skate

Defensemen Sheldon Souray and Stephane Robidas did not practice today. Robidas has missed the last three games with a bone bruise in his foot. Souray missed Monday's game with an ankle injury.

"Souray had an MRI this morning, so we haven't got that back yet," Gulutzan said. "Robi is still limping."

Mark Stepneski

ESPNDallas.com
Mark Stepneski joined ESPNDallas.com in July 2010. A former news/special projects producer for KXAS-TV, he has run the Andrew's Dallas Stars Page website since 1997.

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