During the 2021 offseason, the Vegas Golden Knights management showed their trust in Robin Lehner when they chose to trade Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Though many Golden Knights fans were upset with the move, it seemed like a reasonable gamble given Lehner’s impressive play over the previous three seasons. Unfortunately for him however, his play has not been up to par this season, and it has resulted in an inconsistent start for a team most viewed as a Stanley Cup contender this summer.
Through 28 games played, Lehner’s 2.95 goals against average ranks 35th amongst all goalies who have played in 10 or more games, while his .904 save percentage (SV%) ranks 39th. Simply put, this is not good enough for a starting goaltender, and is holding this team back from its true potential.
Over Lehner’s past nine games, he has recorded a SV% below .900 five times. That was once again the case on Monday night in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, one in which Lehner allowed four goals on 36 shots. While none of the goals were particularly bad, you need your goaltender to be better than the opposing teams, and that wasn’t the case in this contest. After the game, Lehner spoke about what went wrong and how his team managed to blow a 3-0 first period lead.
“We came out well. I thought they had some chances in the first, but we were pretty opportunistic,” Lehner said. “We had a great first period, up 3-0. Pittsburgh has been one of the best teams, they came out real hard in the second. We took some penalties, they got some pretty crazy momentum. I think that first goal kind of set us off a bit and we couldn’t really recover.”
The good news for the Golden Knights is that they still remain first in the Pacific Division. The bad news is that they are nearly half way through the 2021-22 season, and Robin Lehner’s struggles are starting to become a legitimate concern. Even worse is that backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit is still out with an undisclosed injury, and a return date hasn’t been mentioned by coaching staff. There is no denying the talent level of this team, but if they aren’t able to get some better goaltending from Lehner, it is hard to see them going on a very deep playoff run this season.
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