The Battle of the Goal: Lehner vs. Fluery

Robin Lehner and Marc Andre Fleury discussing tactics of the game.

The Vegas Golden Knights have made big news in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs for their goalie situation that came out of nowhere.

Robin Lehner has started in 12 of the 16 games since playoffs started for the Golden Knights. Lehner was considered the backup goalie until playoffs started, then things took a major turn. Since this new transition of the backup goalie becoming the new starter, many fans are not pleased.

Marc Andre Fleury has been the starting goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights since they became an NHL team in 2017. Before Fleury’s arrival to the Golden Knights, he has won three Stanley Cups for the Pittsburg Penguins. Fleury has been known to make unforgettable saves for the Golden Knights and has made an impact on the Vegas community.

Since Lehner’s first playoff game against the Vancouver Canucks, he recorded his first playoff shutout 5-0. The 29 year-old, who is playing for his fifth NHL team, turned down 26 shots. “I thought we played a helluva game, a real good team game,” Lehner said. (https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/aug/24/lehners-gets-1st-playoff-shutout-knights-top-canuc/)

Compared to Fleury, Lehner has a .918 save percentage and three shutouts during their time in the playoffs. Fleury is at .910 with one loss this playoff. Even though Lehner has been getting majority of starts this playoff season, both have proven they are very capable of producing wins for the Knights.

“I knew we were going to be able to want to play both guys and they’ve allowed us to do that by how professional they’ve been and their preparation and their willingness to jump in there and get the job done for us,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. (https://lasvegassun.com/news/2020/sep/08/lehner-or-fleury-so-far-for-golden-knights-vgk/)

In the second series of games in the playoffs, the Golden Knights played against the Vancouver Canucks. After a few wins here and there for the Golden Knights, the Canucks brought out their backup goalie, Thatcher Demko; which became their worst nightmare trying to get a goal past him. During this time, Fleury was barely seen out in the Golden Knights goal.

Fleury’s agent posted a tweet on Twitter that basically said that Fleury had been stabbed in the back by Vegas coach, DeBoer, along with the millions of fans who thought Fleury should have been treated better. However, this tweet was taken down by the request of Fleury just after 24 hours. Obviously, Fleury wanted to make a point as well.

It was a tough decision for Coach DeBoer to make on which goalie would make the best impact for the Golden Knights. DeBoer stepped up and clarified this statement to the press, “I can’t tell you how hard a game that is for a goalie to play in. When you’re not getting any action, your team is peppering the other team in both possession and shots and you’re waiting, but the chances they get and the breaks they get are Grade A’s. That’s why I loved Robin’s game. He doesn’t chase it, he’s not looking for it. He waits for it to come to him and he made a couple of huge saves at key times where the game could have easily swung like it did (in Game 6) when we didn’t get the first or second goal.” (https://www.si.com/hockey/news/vegas-coach-deboer-justified-in-choosing-lehner-over-fleury)

According to the Denver Post, Fleury may not be on the Golden Knights team for next season, maybe ending up on the Colorado team since their third string goalie has been the starter for their games. If Fleury were to move on, he would have to be traded since he is under a contract for the next two years at a $7 million annual cap.

However, for now, Fleury still remains a Golden Knight and Lehner is set to be a free agent on October 9. But, odds are, Lehner will be the one starting on opening night next season and Fleury playing somewhere else.

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