Robin Lehner

Golden Knights’ Robin Lehner reportedly needs season-ending knee surgery

golden knights lehner
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

[UPDATE: Lehner’s season is over but he will need shoulder surgery.]

The Vegas Golden Knights will not have Robin Lehner for the remainder of the season as he needs surgery to repair a knee injury, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Jesse Granger of The Athletic.

When asked about the report on Friday head coach Peter DeBoer said, “Not to my knowledge. It was a maintenance day today. I expect him at practice tomorrow and I expect him dressed on Sunday [for Vegas’ game vs. San Jose].”

Lehner suffered the injury during a March 8 game against the Philadelphia Flyers. He has played only six games since with Logan Thompson getting 11 starts.

In those six starts Lehner allowed 17 goals and recorded a .892 save percentage. The 30-year-old started Wednesday’s game against the Washington Capitals but was pulled after one period with DeBoer saying he made the change because he felt the Golden Knights were rattled.

DeBoer had noted that Lehner was “healthy” and “fresh” earlier on Wednesday.

It looks like it will be Thompson’s net the rest of the way. The 25-year-old has posted a .926 save percentage and 3.84 goals saved above average in 15 games at 5-on-5 this season, per Natural Stat Trick.

The Golden Knights, who are off until Sunday, have four games to play and currently sit two points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Four points ahead of Vegas with a game in-hand sit the Nashville Predators.

Thompson has 16 NHL starts to his name and now he’ll likely face the task of carrying a very heavy load the rest of the day in a season to forget for the franchise.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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    NHL Rink Wrap: Hope for Canucks, despair for Golden Knights

    NHL Rink Wrap: Hope for Canucks, despair for Golden Knights
    Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

    Monday’s top NHL players

    Andrew Hammond, Devils

    Remember when Andrew Hammond dragged the Senators to a playoff berth, and himself to all sorts of free McDonald’s food? Frankly, it was always a bit surprising that “The Hamburglar” didn’t receive longer NHL looks after that run, Cinderella or not.

    Well, if this represents Andrew Hammond’s last real stretch of NHL opportunities, he may have made an impact on another playoff run. This time, it meant hurting someone’s chance to make it, not spurring a rise.

    Hammond made an impressive 42 saves to help the Devils upset the desperate Golden Knights in regulation. While Andrew Hammond frustrated the Golden Knights, Peter DeBoer seemed disappointed with Robin Lehner‘s play.

    The Golden Knights are notorious for making big, sometimes almost reckless offseason changes. In the increasingly likely scenario where Vegas misses the playoffs, could something odd happen with Robin Lehner? With typical teams, you’d say “C’mon.” With the Golden Knights? Who knows.

    Monday NHL highlights

    Johnny Gaudreau reached 600 career points in a very stylish way. The Blackhawks won’t enjoy watching this one in various Gaudreau retrospectives:

    Great execution as Elias Pettersson set up Brock Boeser for a pretty 2-on-1 finish:

    Tricky stuff from Jesper Boqvist:

    Monday NHL Takeaways

    Brutal loss for the Golden Knights; Canucks keep hopes alive by beating Stars

    Not going to deny it: I didn’t think the Canucks really had any chance of making a playoff push.

    After the NHL action on Tuesday, the Canucks aren’t exactly frontrunners. Yet, with a win against a wild-card team in the Stars, and the Golden Knights dropping a painful one to the Devils, things look as bright as one could expect. Really, things do tend to look brighter when you’ve rattled off six straight wins.

    No doubt, there’s some relevance to the Canucks beating the Stars, a current wild card team, especially in regulation. Yet, a lot like the Golden Knights, the clearest playoff route for the Canucks is through the Kings and the third spot in the Pacific Division.

    For a deeper look at the standings, stay tuned for “The Push for the Playoffs.” But here’s a quick rundown after a big Canucks win and a jarring Golden Knights loss.


    Kings, third in Pacific: 90 points in 77 games played (36 regulation/overtime wins)


    Predators, first wild card: 91 points in 76 GP (41 ROW)
    Stars, second wild card: 91 points in 76 GP (39 ROW)


    Golden Knights, outside West playoffs: 87 points in 77 GP (37 ROW)
    Canucks, outside West playoffs: 86 points in 76 GP (35 ROW)


    [Check out PHT’s latest Power Rankings]

    Of course, the Kings would’ve preferred both the Golden Knights and Canucks to lose, preferably in regulation. Still, if they only had one choice, this was the way Los Angeles likely would’ve picked it. The Golden Knights lost to a long-ago eliminated team, in regulation, squandering a precious game in hand and remaining three points behind the Kings.

    The Canucks turn around and face the Coyotes on Tuesday. Winning would leave them two points behind the Kings. That’s a bigger gap that it may sound to some, but there’s a key point: the Canucks have a game left against the Kings. Theoretically, the Canucks could win that April 28 contest (in Vancouver) without giving Los Angeles a point, making this close to a “tie.”

    Then they’d need to execute, and maybe get a little luck. Not impossible, at least.

    Technically, the Golden Knights aren’t totally hopeless, either. But this sure felt like the sort of night you point to when you miss the playoffs, and maybe make some painful offseason decisions.

    Wow.

    Capitals end Avalanche’s winning streak at 9 games, gain on Penguins

    Both the Capitals and Avalanche clinched playoff spots, so their game on Tuesday was about NHL playoff positioning.

    With the Avalanche, it’s about winning the Presidents’ Trophy, as they already clinched home-ice advantage in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Capitals hope to jump out of the wild card and ahead of the Penguins for the Metro’s third spot.

    So, to quality teams with something to play for. Maybe that’s the formula for some Tom Wilson physicality, and some intrigue. The Capitals ended up beating the Avalanche, ending Colorado’s winning streak at nine games.

    Intriguing stuff, as it opens the door for the Panthers to take a slight advantage over the Avalanche in the Presidents’ Trophy race. (The Capitals merely care about chasing the Penguins, who are one point ahead of them, but Washington has a game in hand.)

    Either way, though, these teams won’t necessarily enjoy easy hauls. The East is pretty stacked, and the Capitals are likely to face a tough opponent right off the bat. The Avalanche can’t change the Central Division bracket, which means they’re readying to face one of two hot teams in the Blues or Wild if Colorado can get to the second round.

    So, yeah, there were stakes here. Both teams should really just get ready and try to stay healthy for the playoffs most of all.

    Johnny Gaudreau reaches 600 points, and matches a Jagr milestone

    Johnny Gaudreau already passed 100 points for the season for the first time in his already-impressive career. As noted in the highlights section, Gaudreau also passed 600 points for his career during the NHL action on Tuesday.

    That 600-point milestone might not be his most impressive of the night. Johnny Gaudreau is now the first player to record at least 85 even-strength points since Jaromir Jagr did it in 1995-96.

    It’s a pretty lofty list of 85+ even-strength point seasons, as Johnny Gaudreau is just the 18th player to pull this off in NHL history.

    This season is so jam-packed full of outstanding play, it’s not even clear if Gaudreau should be a Hart finalist. It’s clear that he should be in the conversation, though.

    He’s also clearly pushing his potential earning power through the roof.

    By the way, fellow Flames free agent Matthew Tkachuk is closing in on his own 100-point season, as he’s at 98.

    A big story for Tuesday

    Another big day in the West playoff races with Canucks, Kings, Predators in action

    After the Monday NHL games, several West teams know they need to take care of business on Tuesday.

    • The Predators face the toughest challenge, on paper. They don’t want to loosen their (currently strong-looking) grip on a wild-card spot, so beating the Flames would be a real stress-reducer. If nothing else, Nashville gets the rest advantage.
    • From there, we have two games where playoff hopefuls are heavily favored. First, the Canucks aim for a seventh consecutive win against the Senators. Closing a back-to-back set off rarely counts as easy, but they need this.
    • The Ducks also linger as one of those teams you’re supposed to beat. One of their all-too-rare wins happened against the lowly Blue Jackets. That said, it’s interesting that the Ducks took both the Panthers and Lightning to overtime before that win against Columbus. As sparse as motivation might be right now for the Ducks, they’d also love to spoil things for the nearby Kings. It won’t be the only chance for the Ducks to spite the Kings, as the two teams also meet on Saturday (making it two matchups in the Kings’ next three games).

    Monday NHL scores

    Flames 5, Blackhawks 2
    Capitals 3, Avalanche 2
    Kraken 4, Senators 2
    Hurricanes 5, Coyotes 3
    Devils 3, Golden Knights 2
    Canucks 6, Stars 2

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Golden Knights would be nightmare playoff opponent (if they make it)

    Vegas Golden Knights
    David Becker, Getty Images
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    When the 2021-22 NHL season began the Vegas Golden Knights were one of the league’s top Stanley Cup favorites, and for good reason.

    They were coming off another trip to the Conference Final/Semifinal round, had a great roster on paper, and were considered a favorite to land Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade (which they eventually did). In what looked to be a watered down Pacific Division they should have been a shoe-in to cruise to the top spot and go on another lengthy postseason run.

    It has not at all played out that way.

    They enter play on Thursday on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, right on the bubble in a three-team battle for two playoff spots. They are three points back of the Los Angeles Kings for the third spot in the Pacific Division and three points back of the Dallas Stars for the second Wild Card spot. Either one seems attainable as they have one head-to-head matchup remaining with the Stars and still have two games in hand on a Kings team that is fading fast and dealing with the absence of its top defender (Drew Doughty) for the remainder of the season.

    The playoffs are far from a lock, but they seem way more possible than they did just a couple of weeks ago. Especially as the Golden Knights have gone on an 8-3-1 run over their past 12 games and are starting to get healthy with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone both back in the lineup.

    [Related: NHL Power Rankings: Toronto Maple Leafs climbing; Los Angeles Kings struggling]

    The rest of the Western Conference better hope a healthy Golden Knights team does not find a way to sneak in, because they might again become one of the top favorites just based on the roster they are going to be putting on the ice.

    The biggest problem for the Golden Knights this season has been a matter of health, and then eventually a salary cap crunch (much of which was their own creation). But let’s start with the health, because we have not really seen a fully healthy Golden Knights team at any point this season.

    Stone has been limited to just 29 games due to injury. Pacioretty only 31. Reilly Smith has appeared in just 56. It has only been 59 games for William Karlsson.

    Those four players — all of whom have been among the Golden Knights’ best and most productive players the past few years — have been in the lineup, at the same time, for just 13 games this season. Vegas is 10-3-0 in those games, and looked every bit the Stanley Cup contender they were supposed to be.

    If you want to include starting goalie Robin Lehner — who has been in and out of the lineup all season due to injury — with that group, the Golden Knights have only played 10 games with all five of them. They are 8-2-0 in those games.

    Then there is the Eichel factor, who has yet to play in even a single game with all of them. He has only played in five games with at least three of the them. We just have not seen this team at its full complement of players.

    In advance of Thursday’s game against Calgary, Flames coach Darryl Sutter pretty accurately summed up the challenge the Golden Knights are going to present for teams in the playoffs.

    “When they have the full squad, they’re the favorites to win the Stanley Cup,” said Sutter. “Other than the team that has the Stanley Cup [Tampa Bay], they’re the favorites. They have a $100-million payroll, so they have to figure out how to keep 20 (million) out.”

    As we know the salary cap goes away in the playoffs, and if Vegas can get to a point where it can have Eichel, Pacioretty, Stone, Karlsson, Smith, and Lehner all together with the rest of the roster the payroll is going to be well north of $90 million. The league’s salary cap for the season is $81.5 million. We saw last year with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nikita Kucherov how LTIR can be utilized to ice a super team in the playoffs and how much of a difference that can make, and as of this moment there is nothing stopping teams from doing it.

    [Related: NHL invalidates Golden Knights-Ducks Evgenii Dadonov trade]

    Vegas had attempted to fix its salary cap issue at the trade deadline by trading Evgenii Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks in a salary dump trade. But even that had a crazy way of working out in Vegas’ favor. The trade was ultimately invalidated by the league because of Dadonov’s no-trade clause that was still valid and included the Ducks. The result has been Vegas still having a productive player on its roster for the stretch run and (hopefully) the playoffs. Since he rejoined the team Dadonov has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in the seven games he has played. He is still a very good player and could play a significant role in the playoffs.

    So now we are looking at a situation where the Presidents’ Trophy winning Colorado Avalanche, or the Edmonton Oilers with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, could go into the First Round of the playoffs and be rewarded for their seasons by getting a First Round matchup with a fully healthy Vegas team with its $93 million payroll and playing its best hockey of the season.

    The Golden Knights still have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs, but if they do make them it could significantly change the entire outlook for the Western Conference and the NHL as a whole.

     

    Playoff goalie confidence rankings: Lightning, Maple Leafs at opposite ends

    NHL goalie ranking
    Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

    There is no more impactful position in the postseason — or at any point of the NHL season — than goalie.

    It will make or break your team, it can swing a series, and if you get great play at the position you are going to have a chance to win it all. If you get bad play at the position, your postseason trip will probably be disappointing no matter how good the rest of your team is.

    With the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs just around the corner we wanted to take a look at each potential playoff team (teams that still have a strong chance to make it; so Winnipeg and Vancouver? Not included) and how they should feel about their goaltending situation as the playoffs approach.

    So confident they should be arrogant about it

    Tampa Bay Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s overall numbers this season are not quite on the same level as they have been in the past, but he is still the best goalie in the world and a proven superstar. Especially come playoff time. He has played every minute of their past two championship runs with a .932 save percentages in those 48 games. The Lightning always have a chance with him, and at any moment he can become a dominant game changer that just takes over a series. They are in a class all their own here at this position because of Vasilevskiy.

    Extremely high confidence and no real concern

    New York Rangers. Igor Shesterkin does not have quite the lengthy resume that Vasilevskiy has, and his play has dipped a bit over the past two weeks, so that puts the Rangers at the very top of this tier instead of the absolute top tier. This is the most hockey Shesterkin has played in a season and there might be some concern that he could run out of steam in the middle of a playoff run. But he has been the Rangers’ most important player this season and is not only a Vezina Trophy front runner, he is also a legitimate MVP contender.

    Carolina Hurricanes. Frederik Andersen has been everything the Hurricanes could have hoped for him to be this season and more. What makes their situation especially strong is they have a very, very good backup in Antti Raanta. Neither player is a superstar, but they are both excellent.

    Nashville Predators. Saros has been one of the NHL’s best performing goalies for three years now and is an excellent last line of defense behind a surprisingly good Western Conference playoff team. He almost single handedly dragged the Predators to a playoff spot a year ago and has been just as good this season (with a little better support around him).

    Calgary Flames. The Flames paid a huge price to get Jacob Markstrom in free agency a year ago and he is rewarding them for their investment. Markstrom has a .924 save percentage this season and a league-best nine shutouts. Calgary plays a great defensive game under coach Darryl Sutter, has balanced out its forward lineup, and has a top-tier goalie this year.

    Very confident

    Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche have arguably the NHL’s best defense (almost all of them impact players) and a loaded lineup that can dominate any opponent on any given night. They do not necessarily need a goalie that can steal them a lot of games. They need a goalie that will not lose them games. That is Darcy Kuemper, and just as an added bonus for them he is also capable of stealing a game when needed. Pavel Francouz is a strong backup as well.

    Minnesota Wild. Cam Talbot is a perfectly acceptable NHL starting goalie, but Marc-Andre Fleury is the wild card here. He struggled in Chicago, but what goalie would not struggle behind that mess? He is still capable of being an impact player and is off to a very strong start with the Wild. Between the two of them they should be plenty good enough at this position to make some noise in the playoffs. The playoff meltdowns of years past are in his rear view mirror as he has a .922 save percentage in his past 62 playoff games dating back to the 2016-17 playoffs.

    [NHL Power Rankings: Bruins, Wild peaking at right time]

    Their goalie has something to prove

    Pittsburgh Penguins. Tristan Jarry had a nightmare postseason a year ago, a performance that played a significant role in the Penguins’ first round exit at the hands of the New York Islanders. He has bounced back in a big way this season and has been one of the better goalies in the league. But until he does it in the playoffs there is going to be that question mark looming over him. Very good season, but still mostly unproven.

    St. Louis Blues. The Blues are probably having some second thoughts about that Jordan Binnington contract extension. After back-to-back playoff meltdowns Binnington has come back this season and had his worst season as a pro, currently owning a .899 save percentage on the season. The good news for the Blues is Ville Husso has stepped in to save the day. He has had a great year but he has very little NHL track record to base any projection on.

    Boston Bruins. With Tuukka Rask retired Bruins fans are going to have to find a new scapegoat this season. His absence has been filled by the duo of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. They have been …. fine? Not liabilities. Not game-changers. Just …. fine. Swayman has been the better of the two overall this season but he has struggled since the beginning of March. The Bruins are a great defensive team with some impact players at forward so there is a lot of potential here. They just need the goaltending to be good.

    Dallas Stars. The Stars opened the season with four NHL caliber goalies on their roster, and it has been a journey just keeping one of them healthy and in the lineup. Jake Oettinger has emerged as the starter, but he falls under the same category as Jarry, Husso, and Swayman. Fine performance, but not enough of a track record to really be 100% confident with what he is going to do in the playoffs. Assuming the Stars get there.

    nhl goalie ranking
    Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

    This is a cause for concern

    Florida Panthers. Okay now things start to get really interesting. The Panthers have the best offense in the NHL by a mile. When Aaron Ekblad is healthy they have a very formidable defense. This has been the best full season in Panthers franchise history and there is every reason for fans to believe they have a team that can win it all. The only thing that can disrupt that is goaltending. And guess what just so happens to be a cause for alarm as the playoffs approach: goaltending. Sergei Bobrovsky had a wonderful start to the season, but he has fallen off significantly in the second half and some of his previous playoff performances leave something to be desired. Spencer Knight is the future of the position in Florida, but he has not had the rookie season the Panthers may have hoped for. Since the start of February their team all situations save percentage of .894 is one of the worst in the NHL. This is a potential problem.

    Los Angeles Kings. Jonathan Quick is a two-time Cup winner and has some of the NHL’s best single season playoff runs on his resume. But he has not been that goalie for a few years now. As a duo, he and Calvin Petersen have been pretty average this season, and that has been good enough for a quickly improving Kings team that has exceeded expectations.

    Vegas Golden Knights. The concern here is that Robin Lehner has not consistently been healthy this season, and when he has been on the ice his play has regressed from the past few years. If he is healthy and playing like we have seen in the past, they should be fine. But they have no Plan B like they did in recent years.

    No confidence at all. This is a problem position.

    Toronto Maple Leafs. The offense is great. Defensively they are probably better than their critics want to admit. But that goaltending is a real problem and the obvious weakness here. Jack Campbell has been awful since the start of December, as his .890 save percentage since Dec. 1 is 34th out of the 37 goalies that have appeared in at least 20 games since then (ahead of only Ilya Samsonov and Philip Grubauer). Petr Mrazek has struggled pretty consistently all season. This is going to be a problem.

    Washington Capitals. The Capitals have two options in Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, neither of which has done anything to secure the starting job. Washington was unable to add a goalie upgrade before the trade deadline and seemed to be happy with Vanecek’s play. But that has tailed off in recent weeks and now the Capitals are set to enter the playoffs with no good (or proven) option.

    [Related: Capitals goaltending situation could be big problem]

    Edmonton Oilers. They stuck with the same goalie duo that was not good enough a year ago. They have the worst team save percentage of any playoff team, and teams with this level of goaltending typically do not win. The best option here might actually be Stuart Skinner, and not Mike Smith or Mikko Koskinen.

    NHL Rink Wrap: First shutout for Thompson, Panarin leads Rangers, 100 for McDavid

    NHL Scores
    Elsa, Getty Images

    Top player in the NHL on Wednesday

    Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

    All season the New York Rangers have been relying on their goaltending — mainly Igor Shesterkin — to win them games. When Shesterkin has not played, it has been a bit of a struggle. That was the case on Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings when they needed to rely on their offense to get two points in the standings. It was a three-point night from Artemi Panarin that led the way. He scored his 18th goal of the season in the second period, and then assisted on Chris Kreider‘s 46th goal of the season to tie the game late in the third period before also assisting on Andrew Copp‘s game-winning goal in overtime to give them a little more cushion over the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second place spot in the Metropolitan Division.

    Highlights from around the NHL on Wednesday

    Conor McDavid is the first player to 100 points this season.

    Andrew Copp’s game-winning goal.

    Shea Theodore jumps out of the penalty box to open the scoring for the Vegas Golden Knights.

    Three takeaways from the NHL on Wednesday

    First career shutout for Logan Thompson

    The Vegas Golden Knights have almost no margin for error right now, and until Robin Lehner is back healthy they are going to have to rely on players like Logan Thompson in net to help get them to the playoffs. Thompson stopped all 22 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday night for his first career shutout to help the Golden Knights improve their playoff chances.

    Inconsistency with the NHL Department Of Player Safety

    At this point it is picking at low-hanging fruit to point out the inconsistencies with the NHL’s Department Of Player Safety, but they also make it so easy sometimes. A $5,000 fine for Taylor Hall‘s sucker punch on Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Ilya Lybushkin seems extremely light, not only given the context of the fact it was a sucker punch from behind to a player that did not expect it, but also because the Toronto defender also had to leave the game and was injured as a result of the punch. Even going beyond that and pointing out how light that fine is, how does Max Pacioretty of the Vegas Golden Knights not get any suspension for punching Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang in the back of the head a couple of weeks ago? Just complete randomness all the way around in almost every single decision or non-decision.

    The Canucks chances might be gone

    The combination of Vegas’ win on Wednesday, combined with Vancouver’s 4-3 regulation loss to the St. Louis Blues might have been it for the Canucks’ already slim playoff chances. They are now five points back of the Golden Knights in terms of total points and even further back of a playoff spot based on points percentage. Valiant effort after the coaching change, but that slow start was too much to overcome.

    Thursday’s big story

    Auston Matthews is going for his 50th goal of the season when the Toronto Maple Leafs play the Winnipeg Jets as he continues his outstanding season. His next goal will give him his first 50-goal season in the NHL. The other big story on Thursday is the Minnesota Wild as they look to extend their current winning streak to eight games when they play the Pittsburgh Penguins. The subplot to that game is new Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury playing against his former team.

    Wednesday’s NHL Scores

    Winnipeg Jets 3, Buffalo Sabres 2 (SO)
    New York Rangers 5, Detroit Red Wings.4 (OT)
    Edmonton Oilers 4, Los Angeles Kings 3 (SO)
    St. Louis Blues 4, Vancouver Canucks 3
    Arizona Coyotes 5, San Jose Sharks 2
    Vegas Golden Knights 3, Seattle Kraken 0