Last night the Golden Knights were officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Vegas failed in shootout for the third straight game, ending what was supposed to be a highly successful season. Over the past week, the team was desperate for points, and Logan Thompson, on no rest, gave them the best chance to succeed. It wasn’t ideal. Late season back-to-backs, four straight extended games, and endless pressure was one of the reasons the organization pleaded with Robin Lehner to play out the final few games.
He was unhappy with some of the criticism he was getting and being pulled. There were talks about how can we make this work, can you at least play through the season. Then he saw the doctors, he’s legitimately injured. They announced one surgery but I think there are two or three different injuries. –Elliotte Friedman, The Jeff Marek Show
Surely, had Lehner been available coach Pete DeBoer would have considered starting him against the Blackhawks. Or at the very least use him to support Thompson. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and the team was left with one option while Lehner prepares for season-ending surgery.
Lehner’s playing with two, possibly three really tough injuries. I just don’t know if it’s one thing or more than one thing. He’s left the team at times, he’s been injured at times. He’s tried to play through it, he’s competitive. It’s definitely effected his ability to be at his best. He’s not at his best but he’s competing. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast
Friedman reported the team had asked Lehner to finish out the season and fight through his injuries. I’m sure that’s a common conversation players have with coaches this time of year. In this case, Vegas’ goaltender was battling too many ailments to suit up. Playing through injuries and being publicly criticized must have annoyed and frustrated Lehner. Which shouldn’t surprise DeBoer or the front office.
I think Lehner, rightly or wrongly feels he gutted it out as best as he could and he felt he was treated unfairly. People keep telling me there’s a lot going on here and it’s best to let the particulars speak about when they feel they’re ready. There’s going to be conversations about this. –Friedman, The Jeff Marek Show
Even as the pressure built and their season flashed by them, the Golden Knights managed to stir up more drama. It began with injuries, cap juggling, fumbled trades, and ends with another unhappy goaltender under DeBoer.
Their season was too noisy. There was too much drama. –Friedman, The Jeff Marek Show
When reporting the latest on Tuesday afternoon, Friedman was uncommonly cryptic. He admitted he was warned by a source close to the situation. In other words, the truth will reveal itself in time.
There’s one person that I really trust who’s really plugged into this situation. He said to me ‘be careful, because this one, there’s a lot going on under the surface. Be very, very careful this is going to be a tricky story. A very tricky story.’ –Friedman, The Jeff Marek Show
In one sense the team’s desire to use an injured Lehner as backup made sense. It’s Thompson’s net but the coaches wanted a seasoned starter-type backup not an AHL call-up. On the other hand, it’s easy to understand Lehner’s concerns. DeBoer had publicly critiqued all three goaltenders this season but rarely called out position players. Mark Stone has been a non-factor since his return and Vegas’ coach laid off his captain.
Teams will tell you, you don’t want noise. This whole season has been noisy for Vegas. I just want to hear what everyone has to say because it’s been a hard year there. There’s been a lot of controversy on and off the ice and we have to see where it lands. How is this all going to get solved? I do think they will say that injuries will be a major factor. You get injuries and you get stuck on the cap. Look at how many teams manipulate the cap. There’s a lot of them. Well, this one blew up in Vegas’ face. –Friedman, The Jeff Marek Show
It’s possible that this will all blow over but that’s unlikely. After a disappointing finish, fingers will be pointing all over the organization.
At least we know they can’t blame it on hot goaltending this year.