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What Will Golden Knights Do In Goal For Game 7? And, What If They Choose Wrong?

Which goaltender should the Vegas Golden Knights turn to for Game 7 on Friday night. And, what happens if they choose the wrong guy?

Robin Lehner Golden Knights

I wouldn’t necessarily want head coach Pete DeBoer’s job today. With the Vancouver Canucks winning their recent elimination games and forcing a Game 7 tonight between the Canucks and Golden Knights, one wrong decision could mean the end of the playoffs.

Sure, the Canucks are in a similar elimination game situation, but should they lose, everyone will look at them as having fought a valiant battle. They’ll be no shame in climbing all the way back, just to fall a bit short.

But, in Vegas, when you consider the Golden Knights have a very public controversy in goal and the team has been quick to let go of a very good coach in the past, should DeBoer choose the wrong netminder on Friday, that could be all she wrote on the season, on the future of one of the netminders and potentially on a job or two.

Lehner has been excellent for the Golden Knights until recently and because the last two losses can’t be solely blamed on goaltending, it seems fair to look at the numbers. When compared side by side, the stats heavily favor Lehner over Marc-Andre Fleury. During the regular season Lehner posted a 0.920 save percentage to Fleury’s 0.905. In the playoffs, Lehner has posted a 0.914 save percentage to Fleury’s 0.893.

Looking at just the stats, it seems like a pretty easy decision here.

The Case For Fleury

That said, Fleury is rested, he played well on August 30th and he’s a Stanley Cup goaltender who has the pedigree to shine in big situations. Short-term, the decision isn’t as easy as the numbers might suggest.

The question DeBoer will have to ask himself is whether or not Fleury will come in unshaken and ready to win back the spotlight, or if Lehner is going to rebound and put up strong performances as he’s done in the past.

In a one-game do-or-die, that’s a big decision. Long-term (which of course the coach is not worried about today) making the wrong choice has potentially even larger ramifications.

What if Lehner gets the start and loses?

Isn’t Lehner Pegged to Be The Guy?

Lehner started Game 6 and let in three goals on 19 shots for an .864 save percentage. It was arguably his worst performance in these playoffs to date. He wasn’t much better in Game 5. Still, most insiders believe he’s the future of the goaltending position for the Golden Knights.

Recent talk has been that the team will stick with Lehner after this season ends, try to sign him to an extension and move Fleury in a trade. Until the Golden Knights started letting the Canucks back into the series, most everyone seemed on board with that speculation. It seemed especially logical when Fleury’s agent posted a photo that suggested the netminder was frustrated with the team.

Do the Golden Knights reconsider that position if Lehner gets the start on Friday, the team loses and he’s partially responsible for the Canucks coming back from 3-1 to win the best-of-seven series?

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