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In These N.H.L. Playoffs, Backup Goalies Have Taken Center Stage

  • September 19, 2020

“I was working off the ice,” Khudobin said. “But I wasn’t able to find ice in my city at that time, because everything was on quarantine and closed.”

Partly because of that, several No. 2 goalies, many of them veterans, were thrust into the spotlight while off-ice situations, of different forms, played out for Boston and Vegas.

A tweet brought the Golden Knights’ goaltender battle into sharp focus when Marc-Andre Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, posted an image on social media of Fleury being stabbed in the back with a sword. Fleury has been the face of the franchise in its three seasons, and he had been the No. 1 goaltender through the regular season. But Robin Lehner, who had been acquired at the trade deadline, took over as No. 1 in the playoffs.

The tweet could have pitted the goaltenders against each other, but Fleury and Lehner shook it off.

“Me and Marc, we were just laughing,” Lehner said. “Because it’s always the media who makes a big deal out of this. Me and Marc, we get along great. He’s a really good guy.”

Fleury requested that the tweet be taken down, and he addressed the news media afterward.

“Bottom line is we all want to win,” Fleury said. “That’s why we’re here. I don’t like being a distraction for my team. I really like Robin. We have a good friendship, and I think he’s a really good goalie also. There are no hard feelings.”

After that drama, Fleury started Game 1 of the conference finals in a 1-0 loss to Dallas, but Lehner returned to the starting position for the next four games.

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