Can the Golden Knights Rebound After a Tough Loss?

Don’t forget: It’s only Game One

Can the Golden Knights Rebound After a Tough Loss?

Starting Lehner: At the start of Game One of the NHL Western Division (Honda West) Finals, many were surprised to see that Robin Lehner was in net for the Vegas Golden Knights. With Marc-Andre Fleury posting a stellar .931 Save Percentage and 1.71 Goals Against Average through seven games against the Minnesota Wild these Playoffs, why make a change?

After the resulting 7-1 loss in their game against the Colorado Avalanche, Golden Knights’ Coach, Peter DeBoer, faced a bit of heat for his decision. He responded, “[Fleury] had just played seven games in 14 days, and an emotional Game 7” and that “it was a perfect opportunity in our minds to use our other starter.”

Was playing Lehner the right call? While it may have been a shock for DeBoer to play Lehner—and some might say a mistake—only time will tell if it was the right call. Personally, I think it was right regardless. First, it’s important to note a key phrase that DeBoer used in describing Lehner: “our other starter.” People mustn’t forget that while Fleury started in 36 Games to Lehner’s 19 this Season, Lehner played in 16 Games to Fleury’s 4 in the 2019-20 Playoffs. So, if Lehner is their “other starter,” why shouldn’t he get into a game?Otherwise, since information is hidden during the Playoffs, maybe Fleury has a minor injury and a couple of days off will allow him to fully recover and play in the bulk of their future games. After all, why wasn’t he put in after Lehner’s first few goals against to attempt to win the game? And even if it isn’t an injury, keep in mind that at 36 years of age, Fleury isn’t a spring chicken by NHL standards. Maybe he legitimately needed the rest!

Odds are that DeBoer had wanted to play Lehner sooner and simply couldn’t because their series with the Wild was too close. If you don’t believe me, look back at the Golden Knights’ games since March 27; Fleury and Lehner alternated starts during that stretch. Why would DeBoer have done that if Fleury was the clear-cut starter? As DeBoer says, of all times to start Lehner, Game One of the series was the best choice. I wholeheartedly agree.

Can the Golden Knights rebound? For people interested in the Golden Knights, remember: It’s just Game One. While it could be the difference to lead to their elimination, Lehner’s ice time could also be what pushes them further if Fleury is to falter or get injured. It’s all about balance. And besides, it’s nowhere near as extreme as what the New York Islanders have done with their duo these Playoffs.

So, yes, the Golden Knights absolutely can rebound. As DeBoer said, losing 7-1 is no different than losing 2-1; they’re both losses. Regarding what they can do better, as it has often been discussed, it’s important that the Golden Knights slow down the Avalanche’s speed and limit their stars’ time and space. Beyond that, given that their Season series finished 3-4-1 and they were tied for the league lead in points, there’s not much that separates these two teams. It should be a back-and-forth series, with the team that limits their mistakes and best plays to their identity finishing on top.

A Question for the Peanut Gallery

Do you think the Golden Knights can come back to win the series?

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