(AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
By Brandon J. Koch
All last season, Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner was the number one love/hate player for all Sabres fans and media.
For those that know me, they would probably say that I’m his number one supporter. I’ve had countless discussions and arguments with fans about the 6’4″ Swedish net-minder.
On July 25th, the Sabres signed Lehner to a 1-year, $4 million dollar deal.
Yet another show me contract. I get it, new regime at KeyBank Center, but Robin Lehner is good enough to get the Sabres into the playoffs. Many fans do not like him, simply for the fact that the Sabres under former GMTM, gave up a 1st round pick to the Senators to acquire Lehner. I didn’t agree with the trade at the time, but I’m not going to act like Lehner made the trade.
He had a very good save percentage last season at .921%. The league average for goalies: .913%. Lehner save percentage was better than 10 of the goalies that played in the cup playoffs last season.
Goals against average was not good at 2.68, but in m opinion, I don’t take much stock in GAA, it’s like a plus/minus for a skater.
How about the horrendous defense he had to play in front of? Sabres led the league in shots allowed, and 20th in goals allowed. In 16-17, Lehner had 6 bad starts, not bad given those numbers.
The Sabres offense was bottom 5 in the league in 5 on 5 scoring, what goalie can sustain success with that low of goal support?
Yes, he was bad in shootouts. Every shootout that he participated in last season, I was not confident. And by the looks of it, neither was he.
Another big reason I believe in Robin Lehner: He speaks his mind, tells it like it is. He’s the pulse, in my opinion, of the Sabres dressing room.
He can fix the shootout problems, he can adapt and adjust to not let in soft goals. He will be better next season, playing in front of a better system, (I’m hoping,) and defensive pairings. Scoring goals 5 on 5 will help as well.
This is the chance for Lehner to grab the number one spot once and for all. Jason Botterill gave him the chance. If he’s better, how can he not keep him?