Who will start in goal for the Dallas Stars against Nashville is still up in the air, but if Richard Bachman gets the call he is ready and feeling confident about his game.
Bachman, who has had his ups and downs this season, is coming off a solid performance in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Los Angeles at American Airlines Center, stopping all 22 shots he faced after taking over for an injured Kari Lehtonen late in the first period.
“Confidence-wise it was great. It’s been a little while since I faced game action up here,” said Bachman, who came in when the game was still tied 1-1. “It’s nice to see game situations again and get comfortable again. It certainly helps the confidence. Like I said the other day, I hope it gives the guys some confidence because they haven’t seen me in there in a while.”
Bachman improved to 4-3-0 on the season with the victory, and lowered his goals against average to 3.72 and raised his save percentage to .860.
“We all believe in him. He proved it last year and even this year, that he is an NHL-caliber goalie. He is able to play against any team,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “It was more for him. To be able to step into a game like this, with that much pressure in a 1-1 game and play that well, I am sure it is a big boost of confidence.”
The shots Bachman faced in that game were the first he had seen in an NHL game since March 16, when he relieved Lehtonen in an 8-1 loss to Chicago. Bachman, as is always the case with a backup, tried to make the most of his practice time.
“There was a stretch there where I wasn’t playing as well as I’d like to, and I took the practice time to work on a few things,” he said. “In particular, staying on my feet a little more, being confident that my feet will get me there. You work on little things in your game. When we do the power play and PK stuff it is game-like situations, so you try to take advantage of those.”
The Stars also sent him to the AHL briefly so he could get a couple of starts under his belt. Bachman won both of them – March 19 and March 22 – and stopped 52 of 56 shots.
“It lets you focus on a few different things, your preparation and helps keep you in your rhythm a little bit,” Bachman said of the AHL stint. “It made it a little more comfortable going in the other night and I feel more confident going into tomorrow that everything is in place to help me succeed.”
Whether Bachman starts against Nashville will depend on the status of Lehtonen, who left Tuesday’s game after experiencing some soreness in his groin. Lehtonen practiced briefly Thursday, taking shots for about ten minutes before heading to the locker room.
“He is going to travel with us and he is still day-to-day,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said of Lehtonen. “It’s his groin. He’s day-to-day and he could be a game player tomorrow. But he is still day-to-day, so we’ll see how that plays out.”
And if it plays out that Lehtonen isn’t ready to go, Bachman said he is ready to do his part as the Stars try to push for a playoff spot.
“I am looking forward to it,” Bachman said. “It’s another game of how they’ve been going, where they are all important. Everyone has to do his part to pitch in and help in every way we can.”
Notes: Fraser picks up AHL honor
*Stars forward Matt Fraser picked up an AHL honor on Thursday. He was named to the 2012-13 AHL Second All-Star Team. AHL coaches, players and media in the league’s 30 cities voted for the award. Fraser, who was called up to the NHL last week, leads the AHL in goal scoring this season with 33 in 62 games.
*Forward Lane MacDermid, who has missed the last two games with a chest bruise, practiced on Thursday. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said MacDermid is still seven to ten days away.