How quickly things have changed between the pipes for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Despite boasting a future Hall of Famer and a proven postseason performer in Marc-Andre Fleury on their roster, the Vegas Golden Knights have named Robin Lehner their Game 1 starter against the Chicago Blackhawks.
While there have been subtle hints from Vegas Head Coach Peter DeBoer that Lehner would be the man, this news will come as a shock to many Knights fans who still see Fleury as the franchise’s No.1.
We on this site even said last week that it would be stunning if Fleury wasn’t the undisputed starter for Game 1 of the First Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the Golden Knights are riding the hot hand.
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Granted, Fleury was solid in his two starts after the restart but Lehner was better and his 32-save performance against the Colorado Avalanche in a game that clinched the No.1 seed probably sealed this decision for DeBoer.
Lehner was also impressive after being acquired in a stunning trade from the Chicago Blackhawks at the Trade Deadline, going 3-0-0 in three starts with a 1.67 Save Percentage and a .940 Save Percentage.
It is clear that Lehner’s overall body of work with the Golden Knights convinced DeBoer to name him the starter for Game 1, and the below quote backs that up:
"“It wasn’t what Fleury didn’t do – Fleury was great – it’s what Robin has done since he got here. This isn’t a case of one guy not getting the job done, this is just one guy I think, from the time he got here, just being fantastic.”From Peter DeBoer’s Daily Media Briefing"
That quote also raises questions about Vegas’ strategy going forward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Will they rotate their goalies as they did in the round-robin games or stick with who they think is the best man for the job?
It is a good question and you would imagine it is Lehner’s job to keep if he performs well against his former team tonight.
Fleury, who has never been in this position for Vegas before but went through this in Pittsburgh, could see the ice on the weekend with Games 3 and 4 being played as a back-to-back.
There is merit to starting Fleury at some point given his impressive postseason resume, which includes 135 starts and three Stanley Cups.
Whatever happens, though, this will be a fascinating situation to watch unfold but the Golden Knights have the luxury of having two elite goaltenders they can call upon.
In other lineup news, star forward Max Pacioretty will be back in the lineup tonight after missing the exhibition win over the Arizona Coyotes and all three round-robin games due to a lower-body injury.
However, Pacioretty has been cleared to play and will provide a huge boost to Vegas after leading the club in points (66), goals (32), power play goals (8) and power play points (19).
As a result, center Tomas Nosek will be a healthy scratch.