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McPhee On Goalies: “I Hope We’ll Get Back To Alternating Again”

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At some point, Robin Lehner will return to the Golden Knights and they’ll once again have two legitimate starting goaltending options every single night. Prior to losing Lehner, the Golden Knights had alternated goalies every game and raced out to a spectacular 8-1-1 record, eclipsing the start of the historic expansion team.

I’m sure at the start of the season we’ll look at a 50-50 split to get their games established. Then we’ll go from there and all bets are off. -Pete DeBoer on 1/9/21

Since February 11th, when Marc-Andre Fleury got the surprise start, he’s started all six games for the Golden Knights. During that time he’s posted an impressive .956 save percentage, allowing just eight goals on 181 shots, and recording two shutouts of the Colorado Avalanche.

So, when Lehner returns, what is the plan?

Appearing on the Bob McCown Podcast, Geroge McPhee stated his preference.

In talking about the Lake Tahoe game, McPhee mentioned that both teams were using their #1 goalies. The co-host, John Shannon, later recalled that comment asking if Fleury was indeed the team’s #1 goalie. McPhee nodded in agreement and then added this.

Well, Robin Lehner is injured right now. So, do I see it as a competition? Not really. Do I see it as riding the hot guy? Not really. I really like alternating the goaltenders. Keep them fresh, play every other game, they know what game they’re playing, they know what days are off and what days are work days in practice to get ready for the next game. –McPhee on Bob McCown Podcast

He continued explaining that he’s seen the success of the alternating goalie system in Boston and with the New York Islanders.

I like keeping the goaltenders fresh and alternating is fine by me. That’s what we had planned on doing this year and we’ll see where it goes. When Robin comes back I hope we’ll get back to alternating again and we’ll see. –McPhee on Bob McCown Podcast

Lehner was not expected to travel to San Jose before that game was postponed and has not returned to the ice since missing his start in the rotation two weeks ago.

Fleury has clearly proven he’s still able to play at a Vezina quality level and appears deserving of holding the role as the starting goalie for this team. So, are “all bets off”  or will Vegas return to the 50/50 split?

We know which one the President of Hockey Operations prefers, but we also know his mantra is he doesn’t tell the coach how to coach and the coach doesn’t tell him how to manage.

So, the decision is ultimately DeBoer’s, but when the boss clearly wants it to go a certain way, it’s probably likely to go that way.

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50 Comments

  1. Dean

    We all know DeBoer hates Fleury as well so it will clearly go back to alternating. However, it’s not in the best interest of the team. Fleury is clearly our best goaltender and plays at his peak when he is in net frequently.

    • Yikes.

      DeBoer hates Fleury?!?! Hahahahahaha

    • Douglas MacLeod

      You might think Deboer hates Fleury but not all of us know that. I for one believe that Deboer wants to win and will play the personnel that he believes will give him the best chance of winning.

    • EK

      Just get over that will you please? That’s just a ridiculous mantra to keep throwing out there. He doesn’t hate Fleury. FFS, I mean, so stupid.

    • sb

      DeBoer does not HATE MAF. This is an aggeration. Think about it: coaches must WIN to keep their jobs, and they all do want to keep their jobs. It is in every coaches best interest to play the best players. When comparing the prior three year records of Lehner to Fleury, Lehner’s number are clearly better. MAF’s numbers were declining steadily for a decade. Remember that Sharks game in the Playoffs? There was a big hole one year ago, but that hole was a dependable back-up. Subban is not NHL caliber. He plays at the AHL level. Vegas needed a back-up. Because of Fleury’s hefty contract, the team was stuck with him for better or worse. Was signing Lehner a mistake? I don’t think so. In fact, I think that’s the best $5 mil the team ever invested. Why? Lehner is competition to Fluery. Competition that did not exist w/Subban. Fluery is now playing the best hockey of his entire 17 career. Why? Because Lehner is pushing him. To have two goalies with above .920 SA is rare. Under two goals per game ……….. VGK are in a position to win every single game with that kind of goaltending. I am very, very pleased that the team signed Lehner and he is pushing Fluery to career numbers. In the net, this team is as solid as it gets. Go Knights!

      • Daryl

        Obviously PDB doesn’t hate MAF, but I think he does prefer Lehner. Proof is just watching last year’s playoff series. Lehner did not look great and did nothing to beat our MAF yet he started him anyway. As for MAF’s numbers deteriorating each year, it very well possibly could be due to overuse. VGK didn’t have a viable backup and MAF seemed to never get a rest. It was that way his whole time in VGK.

        I think its ridiculous to suggest MAF is playing better now because Lehner is pushing him. As mentioned in the last game, MAF is staying back and not being as aggressive. That has probably been the biggest thing contributing to his success. I also disagree with this statement based on the fact that the coach has said he plans on doing a 50/50 split when Lehner returns. There is no motivation for MAF to play better knowing he is still going to be splitting games.

        I personally don’t like rotating goalies. It takes the goalie, or any player, out of a hot streak. IMO you let a goalie play 3 or 4 games then give them a break. If they look tired, give them a break sooner. MAF himself mentioned streaks when asked about the istuation.

      • Tom McCarthy

        It’s really nice to have the best goalie tandem in the NHL
        I do think Debor does have favorites.
        I think McPhee needs to open his eyes and realize fluery has gotten the Vegas knights to where they are at right now.
        We have a great team let’s just enjoy the season and take the Stanley cup to Vegas

      • JEFFERY SKELTON

        I agree. At this level of play the coaches decision is about winning games, especially the playoffs. Now with that said, coaches aren’t as always perfect or right and their beliefs, ideas and style of coaching can make a huge difference in a team’s success. I dont agree with rotating like that, but if it is working then great. A team doesn’t have to all get along or like each other to win, but most successful teams have and show a lot of respect and pride for their teammates. GO KNIGHTS!

  2. Smoke

    What are the possibility that Lehner out for metal illness or substance abuse as opposed to an actual physical injury that no one saw happen?

    • The man took a rocket of a puck to the shoulder he had surgery on and was clearly in pain. How much more do you need?

      • Daryl

        Yet the reports are possibly a back injury and not a shoulder injury. When management refuses to be transparent about these things, we can only speculate. I don’t think it’s a personal issue but I wouldn’t automatically believe it’s an injury to his shoulder either.

    • Janet Nelson

      You’re being ridiculous. Lehner had shoulder surgery in the off season and then took a puck to it on live television. Many people saw it happen and saw that the hit clearly hurt him. Go peddle your nonsense elsewhere.

    • Fred Murray

      Can’t speak to his personal life. When I think Robin went down he got blasted by a puck to the shoulder. That may have set his surgery recovery back.

    • Lou

      Don’t go there men. Mental issue is serious.

  3. Richard

    VGK took the stand for paying big bucks for two goalies because the demands of this compressed season had goalie destroyer written all over it.

    The fact Panda hasn’t looked himself following surgery makes the whole VGK head shed look smart this year. But getting Panda last year when Flower was not himself due to injury and family loss helped drive Vegas to the Western Conferance Finals.

    This is a different NHL, changed by health crisis and desperate measures to keep the league alive. Different realities require different approaches. Pre-CoVid style haggling over who should be the goalie is so last lifetime.

    • Daryl

      You do realize VGK did everything they could to get rid of MAF last year and during the shortened off-season. If anything, it makes the management look stupid and extremely lucky!!!

      • Rabbit

        Correct. Everything else is rationalization…. side-stepping the point made succinctly above.

  4. If we go back to 50/50 split, I will really start to question the judgement of management and coaching. Actually I’ll lose faith in their judgement. Already had me well started down that path when they signed Lehner and tried to kick Fleury to the curb based on a few games when the defense was playing great and any goalie would have looked great.

    • I agree with you. If management mis plays our goaltending situation and screws up a chance for cup run it will be hard for me to stay loyal to them.

  5. Pretty interesting that DeBoer hates (comment above) Fluery – Not sure why he might feel that way – he should be kissing Fluery’s a– for keeping his job as obviously Fluery is the best guy on the ice. Turk was replaced without cause and that would not be the case in DeBoer situation if the team was loosing. McPhee is being very two faced as I am sure he was as responsible for trying to get rid of Fluery as anyone else. Mgt in general should be ashamed of themselves for the way he was treated. Fluery was, is and should be now considered the starting goalie whether the Walrus returns or not. Mgt could help their cap situation by just admitting they were wrong and find a cheap backup and hopefully locate someone to take the walrus off their hands just as his previous teams did. This has nothing to do with not liking Lehner it is strictly performance business oriented.

    • Roberta Kendall

      You are correct. Vegas will look like the fools of hockey if they can’t see flower is #1. But then they were fools bringing in Lehner to begin with.

    • Julie

      Right again, HD. It does seem obvious based PDB’s and mgmt’s actions during the playoffs that there was a plan to get rid of Fleury. Either they really lost faith in Fleury and/or when PDB came on he zeroed in on Prior and Fleury was way harder to replace. I wonder if they knew what Foley just revealed about telling Fleury he would retire as a Knight when Foley started the team. Probably. So they had to find a way to drive Fleury out another way. Only that backfired. Rather than cave, Fleury showed them up. PDB doesn’t mention Fleury’s name. It’s tough having all of those law degrees and not being successful in a seemingly simple plan. The kicker is that Fleury is doing so well with Lehner out. It’s like icing on a clown cake.

      Why Lehner is out is anyone’s guess and it shouldn’t be. Whatever the issue, once again mgmt isn’t being straight forward as with other players being out. It’s not helping Lehner to be so vague. As Daryl pointed out, this leads to much speculation.

      • the shadow

        Looks as if Fleury learned and played the game better,

        • Julie

          Maybe that’s what Alan Walsh’s sword tweet was really all about, those guys trying to get Fleury out of Vegas by benching him.

  6. You “fans” are disgusting, ugly people.

    “The walrus” and saying the coach hates flower and asking if he could be out for a substance abuse reason? You people make me sick.

    • DOC (Go Knights Go)

      Absolutely right “John”, thanks!

      • sb

        Agree 100%. The only thing Lehner did was play some good hockey for this team in the last Playoff. Signed a contract that was offered to him by Mgt. Signed it just like MAF did two years back. Worship Fleury if you so choose. But why blame Lehner and call him names? He did nothing but his job since arriving here Day 1.

        • Rabbit

          Robin Lehner literally tweeted a picture of the Walrus goalie from the Geico commercials referencing himself. It’s not a derogatory nickname anymore than “Panda” is.

          Relax.

      • You make me laugh – do you think Panda is any better as I recall that’s how you refer to Lehner most of the time. Hope your smiling it’s not a criticism just an observation. Stay well – Go Knights Go

    • Daryl

      I guess we shouldn’t call MAF “Flower” either??? Get over yourself. There is nothing wrong with calling Lehner “Walrus.” As for the comments about PDB hating MAF, I agree they are baseless, but I do believe he prefers Lehner over MAF for whatever reason

    • Mr Wright.
      Why do you read on if you’re so sick?

  7. knights fan in minny

    no game tonight getting ugly here

  8. Tim

    I guess the upside of this is Fleury got some rest if and when we play the Ducks if that game doesn’t get cancelled for as the NHL says is an Abundance of Caution he’ll have more rest. From what I understand they don’t think some teams will not come close to completing there 56 game schedule so there going to use winning percentage which as of now were one of the highest. Now that’s the way to run a professional league.The good news is the Silver Knights are on TV Saturday at 2pm channel 6 or 33 if your interested.

    • Daryl

      Using winning percentage is great for Vegas…. it really sucks for teams divisions who are beating each up by playing higher quality teams. Not complaining at all, just stating facts. But nothing really matters in the regular season anyway, it’s all about the playoffs. VGK would most likely make the playoffs no matter what division they plan in.

  9. James

    Why no LTIR for Lehner?

    • VGK are currently using LTIR. Thus they are not accruing cap space the same way they were last year. So, in the event they put Lehner on LTIR, they would be eligible to go further over the cap, but would one again have to get back under it when Lehner and McNabb are ready to play. Thus it’s temporary space that will disappear soon. So they really can’t add to the roster using that space.

  10. Tim

    Just saying Lehner and Petro just under 14 million a year now that’s a chunk for underperforming players. Just saying DeBoer in San Jose has some bad contract that will hurt San Jose until 2025.

    • Brucey

      DeBoer didn’t sign the deals in San Jose, just like he didn’t sign the deals in Vegas. Maybe he contributed to the discussion, but that’s on upper management.

      Also, everyone’s forgetting that Vegas swapped an underperformer out (Schmidt) for, arguably and at worst, an underperformer with a higher pedigree. VGK breaks even on that.

      • Tim

        Bruce, do you really believe DeBoer didn’t have input on all those trades in both San Jose and Vegas come on.

        • Daryl

          I agree… I understand the GM has final say but to think the HC doesn’t have a major impact is delusional.

  11. Cindy

    What makes me aggravated is the vague — or even contradictory— information coming from management. What’s the big secret? As far as I’m concerned, Fleury is our starting goalie, not, as McPhee stated, that MAF was only the starting goalie because Lehner was out! …you’ll retire a Golden Knight…. and yes, we PLANNED to push salary cap limits and limit our roster decisions so we can spend a helluva lot of $$$ on goalies….
    Well Fleury is a Great Choice! He’s been on fire and reliable. I just question the decisions being made by management, like springing a new goalie on the team during the playoffs. Who wouldn’t have realized that that was disruptive! Besides, players thrive in different situations. Someone once told me that these guys were professionals and they’re going to give 100% no matter who they are playing for. I agree, but trying to deny that teamwork, compatibility, familiarity or whatever you want to call it, has nothing to do with it is stupid! Take Subban for example. He’s doing great for the Hawks right now — Just found his “element” I guess! And Petrangelo, despite his world-class reputation, is playing “less than stellar” as part of the Knights organization.

  12. FG

    Actually the most interesting question of the podcast was at the end regarding potential trades prior to the expansion draft and whether VGK could be a landing spot for players who may otherwise be picked in the draft. McPhee actually gave an example of trading an exempt player for one that could help VGK now, and it gave the impression that this is highly likely to occur with at least one team.

  13. THE hockey GOD

    injured goalie = walrus

    pandas make poor goalies

    people who think panda is good nick name for goalie also
    think
    1) there was no massive election fraud on nov 3rd
    and
    2) “Heels up” won fair and square

    deal with it posers
    and wanna bees trying to make goalie situation more than what it really is IRL.

  14. Someone critique the Penguins moves at goal keeper for me, Am I missing something here?

  15. Pistol Pete

    It seems Jack Dugan who left college following his sophomore year has come to the pros to play. Currently tied atop the AHL points leader board with 9 in 8 games. Like I said, he came to play and given his size and playmaking may key be worth an early look on the 4th line in the not so distant future. Today’s 2:00 game vs. the Gulls is being broadcast on TV.

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