Fresh off his Bill Masterton Award nomination for perseverance, Islanders goalie Robin Lehner has been nominated as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the top goaltender of the season.
Lehner played in 46 games this season, starting 43 of them, and finished the season with a record of 25-13-5. His save pct. of .930 was both a career-best (like his number of wins) and a franchise record, good for second in the NHL among goalies with at least 10 games played.
Lehner became the first player in Islanders history to get a shutout in his team debut (4-0 against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 8) and he finished with an NHL career-high 25 wins and six shutouts in 46 games (25-13-5). He won an NHL career-best eight straight starts from Dec. 18 through Jan. 10. Among NHL goalies with at least 10 games played, Lehner ranked second in save percentage (.930) and third in GAA (2.13). Lehner and backup Thomas Greiss won the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goalies on the team who allowed the fewest goals (196 including shootout winners) during the regular season.
His play, along with that of Thomas Greiss, propelled the Islanders to second in the Metropolitan Division. Playing in the Barry Trotz structure may help save pct. to a degree, but someone’s gotta make the stops, and Lehner made a lot of them. He’s had an incredible season in his comeback from his addiction and mental health issues, which earned him the Masterton nomination, but the Vezina nomination confirms that he thrived this season as one of the top goalies, making his comeback even sweeter.
We’ll have more on this story as it unfolds, including quotes (hopefully) from the man himself.
UPDATE: Lehner has spoken.
Here is the video of his media availability in the locker room this afternoon in response:
“I’ve had bad days this season, but I know how to handle it now. For people out there who don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, you have to get the right help. That’s what’s good about this. It shows it can be done with the right help and the right people.” @RobinLehner pic.twitter.com/3GqfiMArL0— x - New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 20, 2019
For those who are unable to listen or watch, here’s the Newsday column from Mark Herrmann about it, with quotes from Lehner, including:
“I’ve said this — Lou, Barry, this organization have been more than great,” Lehner said. “It’s not like I’ve been a special case, that I need someone holding my hand. They’ve been incredibly supportive and open-minded and non-judgmental with all that stuff.”
The article also has quotes from coach Barry Trotz and a summary of how the Islanders and Lehner came together.