Robin Lehner has proven himself to be one of the very best goaltenders in the league, and now, he’s ready to get what he deserves. Plus, one of the three games on Friday night ended with a shutout.
Lehner Backs Himself
When the Chicago Blackhawks signed Lehner this summer, many in the hockey community responded with shock. The goalie had just finished an incredible season, winning the Jennings Trophy (along with Thomas Greiss) for the New York Islanders. He also brought home the Bill Masterton Trophy for his incredible perseverance and public vulnerability in the face of severe mental health struggles. And yet, he could only muster a one-year, $5 million contract in Chicago, with no guarantee that he’d even be the starter over Corey Crawford.
At this point, though, Lehner’s ability to persevere is not in question. He immediately took to the crease in his new home and has posted impressive numbers on a struggling team. It’s not reflected in his 12-7-4 record, nor his 2.92 goals-against average (GAA). But his save percentage (SV%) is strong at .922. And his metrics are even stronger: he’s posted a quality start percentage (with a SV% higher than league average) of .652, and he’s got 12.44 goals saved above average, which is the sixth-best mark in the league.
Naturally, a performance like that has generated questions about the goaltender’s future. Crawford is also on the final year of his contract, and the Blackhawks have to decide who will man their net going forward. Some are now speculating that Lehner might take a discount to sign longterm in the Windy City and finally have a franchise that he can call “home.” But on Friday, Lehner put those rumors to bed:
We’ll see what happens, but I’ve been taking discounts my whole life. I’m not a guy who wants to be overpaid either. I want to gain some respect that I think I deserve. We’ll see if that happens or not. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens, but I’ll let the agents and [Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman] figure that out. It’s a different summer this summer than last summer. Me personally, it’s another year under my belt in my new journey. The market is quite open; a lot of teams need goalies, and yeah, it’s not that many goalies that are available this season.Robin Lehner on his future in Chicago
So much for that discount. Lehner has certainly earned his contract, wherever he signs it. Despite not getting much credit on the losing Buffalo Sabres, four of his last five seasons have had strongly positive GSAA numbers. He is indisputably one of the strongest goalies in the league, and soon, he’ll be paid like one.
Mrazek’s Perfect Performance
The Carolina Hurricanes are fighting for a playoff spot right now and every win is important. Big performances from goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer will be crucial going forward, as every point matters in the crowded Eastern Conference. On Friday night, they got just such a performance from Mrazek in a start against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Coyotes put 32 shots on net during the game, but none of them got through. Mrazek’s shutout is his third of the season. The Coyotes mustered just seven third-period shots but did generate seven high danger chances and 2.28 expected goals in the game. Yet Mrazek stood tall.
Though he’s had his struggles with the Hurricanes, the Czech netminder looks intent to prove that he is capable of carrying the load as a team’s starter. He now has a 17-10-2 record on the season, though his .905 SV% will continue to provide fuel for his critics.
Goalie Gram: Goalers With Goals
Yesterday, Pekka Rinne scored his first-ever NHL goal. It was an awesome accomplishment for an NHL great, and who doesn’t love goalies scoring goals? The last time any goalie scored was 2013, but today, the NHL gave us a handy graphic showing every goalie who has ever scored a goal.
From Billy Smith in 1979 to Rinne yesterday, there have been just 12 different goalies who have scored a goal in an NHL game. The only active goalies on the list are the most recent two: Rinne and Mike Smith. Who do you think will be next? Leave us your choice in the comments below.
For all your goalie goals, saves, and shutouts, check out THW’s NHL Goalie Page.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.