Hockey

Pictures of Matchstick Men – ’19–’20 Blackhawks Player Previews – Robin Lehner

The one wrinkle that Stan Bowman missed while ironing his brain this summer was signing Robin Lehner. With Corey Crawford in a perpetual state of ouch and a blue line more horrendously conceived than Waldo’s Dad’s wall, finding a Robin for the Batman Bowman thinks this backend is was quite the steal, if not a bit on the nose.

2018–19 Stats

46 GP – 25 W, 13 L, 5 OTL

.930 SV%, 2.13 GAA

.934 EV%, 1.000 PP%, .888 SH%

28.7 Shots Against/Game

A Brief History: Lehner had a career year last year. He won the Jennings after Barry No-Neck reinstituted his “hockey should feel like a botched vasectomy” defense on the Isle/Brooklyn. He won the Masterson for performing well after confronting and addressing the hell of bipolar disorder. And he was second runner-up for the Vezina. For all the pants shitting Bowman did in the off-season, he managed to fling at least one diaper onto Lou Lamoriello’s cue-ball dome by signing Lehner to a one-year, $5 million deal.

Lehner consistently ranked in the top five among goalies in ALL situations last year.

  • Second overall with a .930 SV% (behind only THE BISHOP!)
  • Third overall with a 2.13 GAA
  • Third overall with a .854 HDSV% (high-danger save percentage)

Lehner also only gave up 93 goals on the year against an expected 109 (ALL situations), which simply means he played better than expected.

You may remember that the Blackhawks were the absolute worst team in HDCF% and a bottom-10 team in HDGF% last year, which is just a fancy way to say that their high-danger defense was a plastic bag of sun-drenched mayonnaise. So, that HDSV% should pop out as promising.

Lehner was pretty good on the PK last year, too, with a .888 SV%. For a team that portends to piss itself on the PK again this year, you’ll take any improvement you can get there.

It Was the Best of Times: If Lehner plays at just his career average rate, then the Hawks have a pretty comparable albeit lesser replacement for Corey Crawford.

Career

Games

SV%

SH SV%

5v5 HDCF%

5v5 HDGF%

5v5 HDSV%

Crawford

448

.918

.869

.501*

.529*

.852*

Lehner

265

.918

.892

.498

.479

.825

Postseason not included

* = 2007–19, NaturalStatTrick.com

And over the last four years, Lehner’s been the better of the two on the PK, though inferior in terms of HDSV%.

2015–19

Games

SV%

SH SV%

5v5 HDCF%

5v5 HDGF%

5v5 HDSV%

Crawford

180

.919

.875

.475

.520

.864

Lehner

179

.919

.891

.502

.477

.815

Postseason not included

This will be Lehner’s first real year since 2013–14 behind a team whose offense isn’t reliant on gas station enhancement pills for even a spurt. (Did you know Ottawa had a top-10 offense in terms of goals scored that year? I sure forgot.) Even with all the woe we throw at this team, the offense has been in the top-10 in terms of goals scored four of the last five years.

So, best case, Lehner performs at a career level or better, which improves the PK despite the fact that it’s somehow going to be slower than it was last year. With the Hawks scoring at a top-10 rate, Lehner can hide some of the trouble he’s had in allowing high-danger goals as the Hawks simply go with an air raid strategy all year. Lehner takes a 60/40 split of starts and the Hawks eke out a playoff spot on the backs of their offense and 1A/1B goalie tandem.

It Was the BLURST of Times: Robin Lehner played for one of the best defensive teams last year. You saw the numbers he put up behind that. The year before, he played for one of the worst defensive teams in Buffalo. His results weren’t pretty, as he threw a .908 SV% and 3.01 GAA. His HDSV% was an abysmal .796. The latter is closer to the kind of defense that Lehner can expect coming to Chicago.

Worst case, aside from an injury, is that Lehner can’t make up for how bad the Hawks blue line is. His HDSV% plummets behind a blue line that, again, managed to somehow get slower than it was last year. He drowns even splitting time with Crawford, and when Crow inevitably gets hurt, Lehner turns into the pumpkin we called Cam Ward last year. The Hawks don’t make the playoffs, don’t get a lucky bounce in the lottery, and no one learns anything.

Prediction: Lehner will end up as the 1A goalie as Crow’s tenure as the Hawks’s resident Rodney Dangerfield winds down. He won’t wow like he did last year, but we’ll get a serviceable, slightly-below-career-average line from Lehner. Let’s say, .908 SV%, .880 SH%. But the Hawks blue line and Lehner’s career HDSV% will pair as well as puke on a pile of shit, and none of the problems the Hawks had last year will really be solved.

Here come the Hawks?

Stats from hockey-reference.com and NaturalStatTrick.com

 

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