The Vegas Golden Knights will officially hit the ice today, becoming the final team to see some playoff action as they take on the Dallas Stars in the NHL's round robin series. Starting in goal, of course, will be fan favourite Marc-Andre Fl... wait... Flower isn't starting!? Say what!?
According to Vegas insider Jesse Granger, trade deadline acquisition Robin Lehner will get the start today in place of the team's usual starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Check it out:
I gotta say... that's pretty surprising. Not because Lehner isn't 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.
Lehner, by comparison, has a remarkable 1.67 goals against average and .940 save percentage in just three games with Vegas so far. He, of course, was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the NHL's Trade Deadline, in an effort to give Fleury a capable backup. Clearly, Lehner is a capable backup and then some. The 29 year old was a Vezina Trophy candidate as the NHL's top goaltender just a season ago. He's become a missionary of sorts lately, earning himself one year deals with the New York Islanders and the Blackhawks in consecutive offseasons. With Fleury aging and with little else behind Lehner on the team's pro depth chart, don't be surprised if Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon elects to commit to Lehner for the long haul. Much of that, of course, will be up to Lehner though. If he can put together a strong post-season performance for the Golden Knights this summer then he makes the decision even easier for McCrimmon and the Vegas front office.
And here's the thing... while Fleury is a massive fan favourite in Vegas... so is Lehner. The fact is that BOTH of these guys are beloved by their teammates, their fans and even the media. 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.