It always a great thing to be able to count on two talented goalies when you’re a head coach like Vegas Golden Knights’ Pete DeBoer.
It isn’t a great thing when you’re Marc-Andre Fleury, who had the starting job in the first place but lost it to Robin Lehner when he came to Sin City in a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks.
And it’s worse when DeBoer has confirmed that Lehner will be the starting goalie tonight for the first game of the series against those same Hawks. We bet Lehner has extra motivation to eliminate the team that shipped him out at the trade deadline.
When Vegas found out they were facing Chicago in the first round over the weekend, Lehner opened up on how he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the end of his tenure with the Blackhawks and their broken promises.
“I went to Chicago to help them out and got promises of getting a fair chance to play,” Lehner said, according to Ben Pope. “I didn’t play much in the beginning or the middle-beginning of the season, even if I played really well and had a good camp. Eventually I took over, and I won like nine out of 10 (games) … and we walked up one point behind a playoff spot. Then all of a sudden, I found myself on the bench for no reason. That was tough. Plus, negotiations had totally died out.”
As for Fleury, it feels like this could be the end of an era in Sin City. The 2019-20 season has been quite tough on Fleury, he who lost his father to cancer back in November. Back in January, the 35-year-old had admitted that he hadn’t been himself in recent weeks. He tried to stay busy, but explained how the quiet times have been the hardest to handle.
We are sorry for Fleury, who is a fan favourite in Vegas and across the league. We are not shocked, seeing that Lehner is a good choice, but because this team has so much allegiance to Fleury given all that he’s done for this team in their three seasons of existence. Still, Fleury has struggled at points this season and his age looks to be catchup up with him a bit. The 35 year old netminder put up 2.77 goals against average and .903 save percentage in 49 games this season, his worst statistics since 2009-10 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It would not be surprising at all if Vegas elects to go with a 1A/1B, Lehner/Fleury tandem moving forward. For Game One though… it’s Lehner’s crease.
Let’s hope there is still room for Flower!