Twitter isn’t always a place of positivity, but one Chicago Blackhawks goaltender is trying to change that, sort of. Today, we’ll talk about that, an adorable goalie moment you’ve got to see, and we’ll dive into the week in review.
Lehner Asks for Help
Social media is full of “experts” who are ready, willing, and able to “help” anyone by providing their perspective, wanted or unwanted. Often, these “experts” are a pain, but in very rare cases, they might have some insight worth listening to. Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner is surely hoping for the latter right now after he took to Twitter — yes, Twitter — to ask for help with his shootout struggles.
Lehner’s comments come on the heels of the Blackhawks’ Saturday game against the Dallas Stars. They lost the game in the shootout after Lehner allowed two goals on two attempts by Joe Pavelski and Tyler Seguin. But historically, Lehner has been adequate in shootouts. Over the last three seasons, playing with three different teams, Lehner has stopped 17 of 26 shootout attempts against, good for a save percentage (SV%) of 0.654.
So perhaps we detect a hint of sarcasm in Lehner’s tweet (it is social media, after all). In the past season-plus, the goalie has become one of the most likable personalities in the NHL, thanks to his openness and vulnerability about his mental health struggles, as well as his incredible run of form in the net. The combination won him the Bill Masterton Trophy last season, and, along with Thomas Greiss, his then-fellow New York Islander, the Jennings Trophy as well.
The Blackhawks doubtlessly didn’t sign Lehner for his shootout SV%, but for everything else he brings to the table. He’s validated their trust in him, as he currently sits first amongst starters in SV%, at .938. As Lehner was quick to point out, “the shootout is not hockey,” so it’s hard to imagine anyone in Chicago is sweating his weekend performance too much.
Goalie Gram: Raanta’s Adorable Fist Bump
The Arizona Coyotes have had a lot of great moments recently, but there were none cuter than this one between backup goalie Antti Raanta and one of the Coyotes’ little fans on the way to the locker room.
The little tyke was actually wearing the sweater of Raanta’s fellow goaltender, Darcy Kuemper, but that didn’t seem to bother the goaler as he bent down to offer his blocker for the fist bump not once but twice. The pair of Kuemper and Raanta has been formidable this season and is a big part of what’s helped the Coyotes climb to second in the Pacific Division.
Week in Review
It’s no surprise that Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins is red hot, as he’s been one of the better goaltenders in hockey this season. He’s won each of his last four starts with a SV% of .931.
James Reimer has also been strong and finished a shutout against the paltry Detroit Red Wings offense on Sunday night. He stopped all 19 shots and has won each of his last two starts.
Finally, Raanta is good for more than just fist bumps. He’s also won his last two games and has made 74 of 76 saves in that time, giving him a SV% of .974.
The Buffalo Sabres are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games and haven’t gotten strong goaltending in that time. Carter Hutton has been particularly weak and hasn’t recorded a victory since Oct. 22 against the San Jose Sharks. Since then, he’s gone 0-4-2 with a SV% of .876.
Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators is also cold of late. He’s lost his last four starts, and more disturbingly, has been pulled in three of those four matchups. He’s made 60 saves on 78 shots in that time (a .769 SV%), which is part of what’s dragged the Predators down to fifth in the Central Division.
Louis Domingue: Backup of the Week
If Louis Domingue keeps playing like this, he won’t be a “backup” for very long. At the start of the month, the New Jersey Devils surrendered a 2021 seventh-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning to acquire Domingue. Then, they departed with longtime goaltender Cory Schneider by sending him through waivers to the American Hockey League, calling up Domingue in the process.
Domingue debuted with the Devils on Nov. 22, taking the ice in relief of MacKenzie Blackwood. He made all five saves against the Pittsburgh Penguins, then got the start the following day against the Red Wings. He only faced 20 shots, but stopped 19 of them, powering the Devils to their eighth win of the season.
Last season, Jordan Binnington taught us that the right goaltender, however unknown, can instill confidence in his team and help them climb out of the basement. Binnington arrived with the Blues much later than Domingue arrived with the Devils. Could he be the key to helping New Jersey return to the level that was expected of them entering the season?
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.