New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner was snubbed from the 2019 All-Star Game, but his performance speaks for itself.
When Robin Lehner takes the ice against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Since the summer, Lehner has been the subject of much attention. For starters, he was informed by the Buffalo Sabres that he wouldn’t be returning to the Nickel City for 2018-19. Then, he opened up about his addiction and bipolar diagnoses in an article for The Players’ Tribune, which elicited sympathy from his peers. On July 3, he signed with the New York Islanders on a one-year, $1 million contract, a far cry from his previous three-year, $6.675 million deal.
Since joining the Islanders, Lehner has been the best — and most unlikely — goaltender in the league. In 19 games, he has a league-leading 2.14 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
On Wednesday, the league released rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game in San Jose. Lehner was noticeably omitted from the Metropolitan Division squad. In his place, the league’s hockey operations department selected Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist — two accomplished netminders who are not enjoying as much success as Lehner is this season.
Lehner’s size (6-foot-4, 240 lbs.) and quickness have been cited as reasons for his resurgence. Since joining the Islanders, Lehner has worked with Mitch Korn and Piero Greco — two respected goalie gurus.
But perhaps nothing explains Lehner’s good play as well as his willingness to improve — especially following one of the more surreal summers in recent memory. Lehner used to be combative, and to an extent, mercurial, in net, so his attitude change on- and off-the-ice has been paying dividends.
Lehner was snubbed for the All-Star Game, but his teammate Mathew Barzal was justifiably recognized for his play. The 21-year-old forward has 10 goals and 26 assists in 38 games for the Islanders, following a six-point week that earned him the league’s second star of the week.
Islanders captain Anders Lee is a nominee for the ‘Last Men In’ fan vote. The 28-year-old has 14 goals and 13 assists in 38 games this season. Since the start of last season, Lee leads all American skaters in goals and power play goals, according to Andy Graziano of WFAN.
Sadly, Lehner didn’t make the ‘Last Men In’ fan vote, despite his performance this season.
Of course, the All-Star Game isn’t the be-all-end-all for players; the Stanley Cup is. Lehner has his team competing for the playoffs, and that really is all that matters.
ISLANDERS The Islanders will be without Valtteri Filppula, Thomas Hickey, and Jordan Eberle on Thursday night. Lehner will be in net, while Tom Kühnackl will be inserted into the lineup. Leo Komarov will move to center with Filppula’s injury.
BLACKHAWKS Collin Delea will likely be in net for the Hawks on Thursday night, according to Chicago Blackhawks beat writer Mark Lazerus, who grew up on Long Island and has some interesting anecdotes growing up an Islanders fan.