ANAHEIM, Calif. — The numbers show this to be one of the best stretches of Robin Lehner’s career, rivaling the goalie’s memorable run with the New York Islanders in 2018-19.
He posted his first shutout of the season in the Golden Knights’ 4-0 victory over Anaheim in Friday’s series opener and has won seven of his past eight starts.
But the results aren’t how Lehner judges his performance. He remains focused on the process and ensuring his “calculated cheating” style of play is sharp ahead of the postseason.
“It’s kind of hard to pinpoint why people think I’m playing good right now,” Lehner said Saturday. “I think the team is playing fantastic, scoring a lot of goals. We are playing good structurally, so it’s given me the opportunity to calm down even more and get back to my game even quicker.”
Lehner improved to 10-1-2 overall with his 16-save effort against the Ducks and hasn’t lost in regulation since Jan. 22.
In eight appearances after returning from a concussion, Lehner has stopped 192 of 205 shots (.937 save percentage) to go with a 1.68 goals-against average. He’s allowed two or fewer goals in seven of those eight starts since March 19 after missing more than a month.
Lehner had a similar hot streak with the Islanders two seasons ago when he won eight straight and 11 of 12.
“Every time he makes a save he makes it look easy,” captain Mark Stone said. “I think that’s when you know your goalie’s in control. He makes saves. He’s in the right spots. He knows exactly what he’s doing right now.”
Lehner underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason and admitted he didn’t skate as much as he would have liked leading into the abbreviated training camp in January.
With no exhibition games to work out the kinks, Lehner battled through his first five starts before he was injured.
Unlike some goalies who rely more on quickness and reflexes, Lehner’s success is based on reading the play, anticipation and using his 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound frame to gobble up space.
That “calculated cheating,” as Lehner calls it, is becoming more dialed in with each of his starts. In Lehner’s past two outings against Anaheim and Los Angeles, his economy of movement allowed him to make a handful of difficult saves look easy.
“I’m definitely getting closer and closer to where I want to be,” Lehner said. “I just want to get to my calmness and my game and the way I read the plays. That’s when I feel good.”
The Knights have 13 games remaining in the regular season, including Sunday’s rematch with the Ducks. As it stands, coach Pete DeBoer will have a difficult choice between Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury to start the postseason.
“I think his play is at a different level now than it was early in the season,” DeBoer said of Lehner. “Starting to look really, really sharp both in practice and in games.”
■ What: Golden Knights at Ducks
■ When: 1 p.m. Sunday
■ Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, California
■ TV: AT&T Sports Net (Cox 313/1313, DirecTV 684, CenturyLink 760/1760, U-verse 757/1757, Dish 414/5414)
■ Radio: KKGK (98.9 FM, 1340 AM)
■ Line: Knights -250; total 5½