PREMIUM: Robin Lehner to Vegas Checks Boxes for Deadline Acquisition Success
InGoal has just launched the new Premier Edition with exclusive content for members. It’s a hybrid of magazine and website, or as we like to say, half magazine, half website, all goaltending. This is a short excerpt from one of our articles. For more on InGoal Premium please visit ingoalmag.com/magazine
When it comes to rules for finding the right goaltender at the NHL Trade Deadline, it is kind of like the position itself: there are few absolutes. There are, however, trends and tendencies that can influence how well and how quickly a new goalie will adapt to a new team and system.
Robin Lehner being acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights checks a lot of those boxes.
FITTING PRIOR’S PREFERENCES FOR PATIENCE
The Golden Knights have made no secret of the fact they lean on veteran goaltending coach Dave Prior when it comes to choosing their puck stoppers, and he kindly shared what he looks for with InGoal for a long and worthwhile Q&A that we ran in May 2018:
“I am looking for people who have demonstrated the courage to wait out situations longer than goaltenders that just default to the ice and it’s not always fair to the guys who default to the ice because they have been schooled that way,” Prior said, adding later he doesn’t like his goalies to play with backwards flow either. “Some of them need to do it sooner than others because they are not quick enough to wait situations out, so I am trying to find guys that can get over the discomfort level of when a guy gets in so close you start to lose that time to react and it’s unsettling and you want to back off. Some guys seem willing to hold in there longer.”
No wonder the Golden Knights liked Lehner. Patience isn’t a problem for the big Swede. It manifests itself in a lot of half-butterfly saves instead of defaulting to both knees.
“Patience is more important now than ever, but I just go more one-knee down saves the last couple of years because the regular butterfly just doesn’t cover enough up top,” said Lehner said on Episode 52 of the InGoal Radio Podcast. “You have to be really, really patient to make those types of saves but unpredictability is getting bigger and bigger anyways. There’s more and more video, more and more pre-scout, and players are just getting better and better, so you definitely have to be more unpredictable. … If there’s a guy shooting from the slot and he hits a spot, there’s only one way of saving it and it’s an unorthodox save. If he hits the spot and you do a regular butterfly, he’s scoring, end of story. As soon as I see they’re into dangerous zone, I stop being technical. I start looking at the sticks are looking at his face and start predicting leaning and then cheating?—predictable cheating?—and you have to. If there’s a shot from the slot and you’re not one step ahead, he’s scoring. You have to realize there are other methods. It’s about the unpredictability, not making a perfect save and perfect technique.”