Golden Knights’ Lehner Is a Key Reason for Recent Success

The Golden Knights started the 2021-22 season by fully committing to Robin Lehner as their starting goalie when they traded Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks. Even with the massive amount of injuries that have hurt Vegas, Lehner still has been up to par and consistent with his career averages. With this said, once the team gets back to full strength, Lehner has the chance to become one of the most dominant goalies in the NHL.

Finding Ways To Win With Recent Play

This season, the 30-year-old netminder has been a big reason as to why Vegas is holding down the first wild-card spot right now. Without a consistent lineup for most of the season, Lehner has been forced to stay on top of his game. This season he holds a .913 save percentage (SV%) and a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.01, though he has yet to record a shutout. These numbers seem to be underachieving at first glance, but when looking at the number of injuries in Vegas, these could be much worse.

Robin Lehner Vegas Golden Knights
Robin Lehner before a Stanley Cup Playoff game (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

However, in his last seven games, Lehner is 5-2-0 with a .918 SV% with a GAA of 2.86. This is a good sign for the Golden Knights, as Lehner and the team seem to be finding their feet again. As more players return and the lineup becomes more normal, players will become more comfortable with each other, and the whole team’s stats should improve. 

Related: Despite Multiple Setbacks Golden Knights Are Finding Ways to Win

A new trend this season in Vegas is the number of shots the team is giving up. During the 2020-21 season, the Golden Knights held their opponents to just 27.3 shots per game, which was in the top five in the NHL. This season is a different story. Currently, Vegas is in the bottom six for shots against, with an average of 33.7 per game.  This increase in nearly seven shots could also explain Lehner’s numbers to start the season.

Looking at the Rest of the Season

As a whole, Lehner has been a shining light ever since he became a Golden Knight. In his career with Vegas, he has 24 wins in 37 games. His GAA is 2.32 with a SV% of .922. So far, his stats with the Golden Knights are better than his career averages, so he is still showing signs of improvement even 13 years into his career. This could also be due to growing confidence, as his role as a starter is secure.

Robin Lehner Vegas Golden Knights
Robin Lehner during warmups (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Barring any crazy moves by the front office, Lehner should continue to see the majority of games inside the Vegas crease. He is a true leader on this team and has spoken up on issues to protect his teammates. Lehner knows his strengths but also understands his weaknesses, which makes him a valuable asset for the Golden Knights. 

As the season progresses, it would make sense to see Lehner’s stats continue to improve. More of the Golden Knights’ regular players are expected to be back in action soon. However, it is not fair to expect Lehner to carry the team on his back for the whole season. Other players need to pull their weight as well to help ease the workload for him. An easy way to lighten the load for him is to produce on the power play — Vegas is the second-worst team with the man advantage with a power-play percentage of 11.4.

Overall, Lehner is doing a good job holding down the fort while the Golden Knights heal up from their numerous injuries. He is a significant reason why the Golden Knights find themselves in the top Wild Card spot before the American Thanksgiving marker. As the season progresses, they can easily compete for a top spot in the division with his continued improving play. 

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