Vegas Golden Knights: Schedule tweak adds another wrinkle to goalie battle

Tough decisions await the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of Game 3.

The NHL and the Vegas Golden Knights will return to action on Saturday following a two day break in response to police brutality and social injustice issues in America.

Vegas will battle the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3, which was originally slated to take place on Thursday, with the series tied at one apiece.

The Golden Knights dominated Game 1 with five goals and a shutout, although the Canucks came fighting back in Game 2 with a 5-2 win.

And the series could really turn this weekend with the two teams handed a back-to-back as part of the NHL’s rescheduling for Round 2 in the wake of the events of the last few days.

As such, the Golden Knights will have a crucial decision to make when it comes to their goaltending this weekend.

We know that Head Coach Peter DeBoer has stressed that he will utilize both parts of his tandem throughout the postseason, while Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury did split the back-to-back against the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1.

However, who should start between the pipes in Game 3?

Lehner is clearly the man and the undisputed starter in the eyes of DeBoer and that shouldn’t change despite a shaky-ish Game 2.

There were probably a couple of goals that Lehner would want back in the 5-2 loss to Vancouver, including the first goal of the game by Tyler Toffoli and Elias Pettersson‘s dangle.

Granted, Lehner was left exposed by his defense time and time again but you want your goalie to steal a game or two in each series and Lehner wasn’t able to do that on Tuesday.

But one game is one game and Lehner will still be the better goalie and still gives the Golden Knights the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup in the eyes of DeBoer and the front office.

So, with that in mind and coupled with the fact that Lehner should be well rested after having an extra couple of days off, it wouldn’t be surprising if the 2018-19 Vezina Trophy finalist started Game 3.

Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights stops a shot against Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks

Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights stops a shot against Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks during the first period in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

However, on the flip side, Fleury started Game 3 of the First Round against the Blackhawks and was sensational, winning the game for Vegas with 26 saves from 27 shots in a 2-1 victory.

He should have a chip on his shoulder in the wake of that Tweet from his agent Allan Walsh and the almighty storm it caused, and Fleury would be extra motivated to come in and help give his team a 2-1 series lead.

Fleury has the Stanley Cup resume and the pedigree in the postseason, while he knows how to steal a game when it really matters so maybe saving the future Hall of Famer for Game 4 would be  the smart play.

It is a tough decision for DeBoer but, given what has happened so far, it seems likely that Lehner will start Game 3 and then it will be up to Fleury to come in for Game 4 on Sunday and either help the Golden Knights extend their series lead or strike even.

Whatever happens, though, expect this goaltending battle to continue to be a hot storyline heading into this pivotal weekend and beyond for the Vegas Golden Knights.