FRISCO -- With Kari Lehtonen out at least three weeks with a groin injury, Andrew Raycroft will be the guy in net for the Dallas Stars. But if he is needed, Richard Bachman is ready.
“It’s another opportunity,” said Bachman. “You can’t ask for anything better and I am excited to be here again.”
The 24-year-old Bachman, a fourth round pick (120th overall) in 2006, is in his third professional season. And at 5-10, 175 pounds, Bachman bucks today’s trend of the big goalie. But he plays big and all he has done in his career is stop pucks and win games.
After a stellar two years at Colorado College, Bachman led the ECHL in goals against average and was tied for second in save percentage in his first pro season. In 2010-11, in his first full season in the AHL, he ranked in the top four in all key statistical categories in posting a 28-19-5 record, 2.20 goals against average and .927 save percentage.
“It’s his competitiveness. He’s a real competitive guy,” said Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan, who coached Bachman in the AHL. “He’s a cerebral goalie. As a smaller guy he has to be in good position. He doesn’t give up a lot of rebounds and you have to beat him clean to beat him. He reads the game well. Quietly, quietly competitive guy and he’s won everywhere he’s been.”
This season has been up and down for Bachman with the Texas Stars, who have gotten off to a rocky start. And Bachman’s numbers have taken a hit. He is 7-6-1 with a 3.13 goals against average and a .887 save percentage. No excuses from Bachman.
“I know I can be a little bit better down there than I have given them, battled a little bit of consistency,” Bachman said. “You’ve got to look at the positives and learn to battle. It happens in everyone’s career, you are going to go through a little lull. You just have to keep battling. I am pretty sure I can work through that. It doesn’t worry me. It just makes me work harder.”
Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley said he sees progress in Bachman’s development as a goaltender despite the numbers being off this season.
“If you look statistically this year he obviously hasn’t had as dominant numbers as he had last year, but sometimes statistics can be a little bit deceiving,” said Valley. “I think he is further ahead than where he was last year. He’s always been a very controlled guy in the net. He focuses in on making sure he is in the right spot. His positioning is excellent, he’s very calm and all those things are progressing. He’s a better puckhandler this year than he was last year. He reads plays a little bit stronger than he did last year.”
Bachman got his first taste of regular season NHL action last year, playing the final 9:35 in a game at Phoenix. He stopped all four shots he faced and the first one came off the stick of Martin Hanzal on a two-on-one.
“That was a little different scenario than starting a game, but I got that first save out of the way, which was huge. You definitely want that. It helps,” Bachman said. “It gives you confidence and keeps you calm in there.”
Bachman’s been around Gulutzan the last two seasons, so he sees that as an advantage as he comes up to the NHL this time. He knows the Gulutzan system well. And he had a strong training camp and preseason with the Stars, and saw action in two preseason games. That’s helped with the comfort level as well.
“That was huge. The biggest thing was being here for a while, getting to know all the guys,” he said. “That makes you that much more comfortable when you get the call up.”
And he performed well in the two preseason games – a full 60 minutes at Colorado and one period against Florida. He stopped 32 of 35 shots in the appearances.
“That gives me a lot of confidence that I can step in there and play,” Bachman said.
Time will tell if he gets in a game or a start during this call up, but the Stars believe he is ready to step in as well.
“He’s ready for this challenge,” said Valley. “We’ll get to see if he gets in a game or not, but if he does I certainly think he is ready for it.”
*LW Brenden Morrow (back) and D Trevor Daley (back) are out for at least the next two games. They could be ready to go when the Stars open their five-game road trip next Thursday, according to Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.
*D Alex Goligoski (broken thumb) and RW Adam Burish (broken hand) skated after practice. Goligoski said he is due to get his cast off Friday. Gulutzan said there is a possibility Goligoski could return during the upcoming road trip.
*C Jamie Benn, RW Michael Ryder and C Vernon Fiddler did not practice Wednesday. They were given maintenance days and are expected to play Thursday.
“Bachs is a great guy. He’s excited to be here. It’s just fun to have a little energy from a new guy. Everything’s exciting and new to him – the planes, the hotels and everything. It kind of gives you a little more energy when you’ve been around and done the same hotel, the same bus drivers, same cities, everything. So, it’s nice when there’s a new guy around with a little more energy. He’s a great guy and fun to be around.”
Stars goaltender Andrew Raycroft on backup Richard Bachman