Robin Lehner may have a chip on his shoulder and that’s good news for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Following the news that the NHLPA has voted yes to a 24-team Playoff format and teams will be allowed to start slowly using facilities again from early June, we appear to inching closer to hockey returning at some point this year.
While these are very much tentative baby steps in the grand scheme of things with a plethora of issues still to be thrashed out, it is a start and there is genuine hope that we will see a Stanley Cup Champion crowned in 2019-20 after all.
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That’s all we can ask for at this point.
So, going on the assumption that the Golden Knights will get the chance to finish what they started this year, Lehner won’t be a three-game wonder for Vegas.
He could even hit free agency, if that’s the path he chooses to go down as a pending UFA, as a Stanley Cup Champion if all goes according to plan for the Knights.
But having Lehner on the roster for the postseason will be a significant game-changer for the Golden Knights, in more ways than one.
For starters, with the elite goalie Vegas automatically has a lethal one-two punch between the pipes in Lehner and future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury.
Thanks to the current hiatus both netminders will be fully recharged and refreshed once the green light is given for the season to resume, and we all know how elite Fleury is when he’s at the peak of his powers.
Being able to boast both Fleury and Lehner on the roster in the postseason will give the Golden Knights a superior advantage over most teams, and Vegas also has a notable insurance policy should anything happen to Fleury.
You can’t win championships without elite and deep goaltending, after all.
Also, Lehner will no doubt enter the Playoffs with a considerable chip on his shoulder and a huge point to prove.
Set to hit the open market for the fourth time since 2017-18, Lehner is no doubt craving some stability from his next team and he’ll want to use the gigantic stage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to prove why he deserves to be the No. 1 guy for most teams in the NHL.
Only being given one-year deals year after year can’t be easy for any athlete, especially one who was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy following a stellar 2018-19 season for the New York Islanders.
So, make no bones about it, Lehner will have added motivation to tear it up throughout the Playoffs for the Golden Knights.
And, while Fleury will likely be the undisputed starter for Vegas, Lehner will be waiting in the wings with fire in his belly ready to step in should he be needed.
That will only work out well for the Golden Knights.
While the coaching staff will likely ride or die with Fleury, they can at least rest easy in the knowledge knowing that they will have a motivated and ready Lehner to fall back on at any point in the Playoffs.
As we saw with Michael Jordan on the hit ESPN documentary ‘The Last Dance’, playing with an added edge can lead to greatness and Lehner will want to prove a few people wrong while also putting himself in the shop window.
Plus, it is likely that the 28-year-old will want to go all out in order to convince the Golden Knights front office why they should perform a salary cap miracle by offering him a new contract in the off-season.
All in all, Robin Lehner will have extra reason to be a standout performer in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Finals, and that could prove to be a real secret weapon for the Vegas Golden Knights in their quest to win a Stanley Cup.