Judging by the reviews on social media and all-around the drinking water cooler, you get the emotion that Robin Lehner could win the Vezina Trophy and nevertheless be hated in Buffalo.
Supporters can’t feel to glance past the fact that former Sabres common manager, Tim Murray, traded away a first round pick to get him. It’s a sunk charge that are not able to be recovered, so admirers really should get around it. The Swede can’t be held accountable for Murray bringing him in. Murray constantly favored Lehner, relationship from his time with the Ottawa Senators.
Then there is the supposition that Lehner arrived to Buffalo out of form in 2015-16, which may have contributed to his damage in the first 5 minutes of his debut. However, he arrived to coaching camp very last slide appreciably leaner and all set to complete at a superior stage.
Ultimately, like quite a few players admitted very last calendar year (Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly), Lehner may have returned to the lineup far too immediately soon after getting sidelined. The bravado to ‘fight as a result of pain’ to get out on the ice and ‘help the team’ prior to getting 100 % all set is a reoccurring problem with the Sabres. The medical team providing clearance prior to a participant is all set for video game problems is like participating in with hearth or jogging with scissors.
A New Agreement
Common manager Jason Botterill inherited Lehner and signed him to a new one particular-calendar year agreement really worth $4 million. It’s a excellent agreement for both sides: Lehner receives a raise (his very last agreement paid him $2.25 million) on a one particular-calendar year deal and the Sabres have an out if he does not fit the new procedure. In addition, he’s nevertheless a limited totally free agent soon after the 2017-18 year ends, so his rights will remain with the Sabres. If he solidifies himself as their variety one particular goalie, Botterill will re-indication him.
Breaking Down Stats
Numbers really don’t lie. Very last year, guiding a blue line that was a mess, Lehner posted a .920 help save percentage in 59 commences, a 23-26-8 report. He was arguably the Sabres’ most steady participant and typically carried the workforce. Of goalies appearing in 50 game titles or a lot more, Lehner posted a 2.68 aims in opposition to typical (16th total) and the sixth best help save percentage in the league.
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Through the 2016-17 year, the Sabres authorized 34.3 shots for every video game, the optimum of any workforce in the league. Only Cam Talbot of the Edmonton Oilers and Frederik Andersen of Toronto Maple Leafs faced a lot more pucks than Lehner. The mad-eyed netminder retained the Sabres in quite a few game titles they had no small business getting in rivalry to win. And which is actually all you can question of a setting up goalie.
Like any goalie, Lehner allow in softies. However, with an anaemic offense (other than a shockingly explosive 24.5% electricity enjoy conversion), his workforce couldn’t rating to compensate or erase any of his problems. The Sabres’ aims for was tied for 24th in 2016-17 (2.43 aims for every video game typical).
The workforce often received hemmed in their individual conclude and did not have defensemen who could make the first move. With the rink so lopsided – the puck in the defensive zone for far too a great deal of the video game – it was inevitable that aims would be scored by the opposition.
Digging Even Deeper
Two exciting stats that glow a highlight on a goalie’s efficiency are his ‘Quality Commences Percentage‘ (QS) and ‘Really Bad Starts’ (RBS). QS refers to Lehner’s percentage of game titles begun wherever he has a help save percentage better than his help save percentage on the calendar year or at least 88.5% on nights when dealing with 20 or less shots in opposition to. RBS is outlined as a start out with a help save percentage of significantly less than .885.
Amid goalies who played at least 40 game titles, Lehner’s QS% rated 17th in the league, at .552. In other phrases, he was proper in the center of the pack for setting up goalies.
Amid goalies who played at least 40 game titles, Lehner had the eighth best RBS, meaning 7 goalies had less very poor commences. Only Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky played in a lot more game titles and had a far better RBS than Lehner.
There is no way to sugarcoat it, Lehner was terrible in the shootout very last calendar year. It was one particular of quite a few aspects that harm a franchise making an attempt to make the postseason for the first time in 6 years. That explained, the workforce in front of Lehner couldn’t win in regulation or overtime. Even if the Sabres gained every single shootout video game that Lehner played very last calendar year, they would’ve fallen quick of making the playoffs. Blaming Lehner is like pointing a finger at the incorrect problem, at least for now.
Even even though there are no shootouts in the playoffs, Lehner will require to make improvements to his enjoy on breakaways and one particular-on-one particular to be thought of a authentic variety one particular.
Management & Character
The 26-calendar year-old is significantly from a bland, emotionless robot. His toughness, mood and enthusiasm are typically on comprehensive screen. He’s a major-time, extreme competitor who would like to win every single video game. His thoughts are not only refreshing but welcome on a workforce that lacked accountability very last calendar year. He’s a workforce-firstcplayer who holds himself and his teammates to a superior common.
Even with the workforce failing to make the postseason, Lehner gave the Sabres playoff-caliber goaltending very last calendar year. As fellow Sabres contributor, Richard Spalding wrote not too long ago, ‘Lehner’s stats have been far better than the greater part of goalies on groups that built the playoffs in 2016-17′.
Lehner will likely continue on to be underappreciated right until the Sabres make the playoffs. Even then, it may not be sufficient to fulfill the curmudgeons who have it out for him. Regardless, this is a make it or split it year for Lehner. Expectations are increased now that the workforce has built sizeable adjustments in the front business and on the roster.