Lehner will start Game 1 over three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury, who has the most playoff victories among active goaltenders with 78.
“It’s not about what Flower didn’t do,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. “Flower has been great. It’s about what Lehner has done since he got here.”
Lehner was 3-0-0 with a .940 save percentage and one shutout with Vegas after he was acquired from the Blackhawks on Feb. 24. He saved 56 of 62 shots (.903 save percentage) in two round-robin games for Vegas against the Stars (24 of 27) and Avalanche (32 of 35) at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the West’s hub city.
Fleury has started all of Vegas’ 27 playoff games in franchise history since they entered the NHL in 2017 and led him to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He allowed four goals on 17 shots (.765 save percentage) in the Golden Knights’ 6-4 win against the Blues on Aug. 6.
Lehner was 16-10-5 with a .918 save percentage and 10.53 goals-saved above average in 33 games before the Blackhawks traded him. Corey Crawford, meanwhile, was 11-17-3 with a .915 save percentage and 6.40 GSAA in 32 games as the two shared starting duties.
“All I know is it’s going to be fun playing them,” Lehner said Saturday about facing the Blackhawks. “They’re a very good hockey team and I have a lot of respect for them, the whole organization... but I think I really like it [with Vegas], we’re a great hockey team.”
Crawford went 3-1 with a .891 save percentage and minus-3.68 GSAA in four games during the qualifying round against the Oilers. He missed all but the final day of training camp recovering from the coronavirus before the Blackhawks traveled to Edmonton.
Crawford is expected to start Game 1 for the Blackhawks, who will play their first playoff game since 2017.