New York Islanders Sweep Pittsburgh Penguins With 3-1 Game Four: 3 Takeaways
Picking on Lehner
The New York Islanders focused their attention on Evgeni Malkin in games two and three. They got in his face and took him out of the game.
Facing elimination the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to do the same. You’d think they’d go after someone like Mathew Barzal or even Jordan Eberle. Both have been the better players going forward for the New York Islanders. But the Penguins decided to pick on goalie Robin Lehner.
The strategy, on paper, sounds wise. Get the goalie out of the game and the Penguins should be in a good position to win.
It’s just, Robin Lehner is about as close to the modern day Billy Smith as you can get. He’s big and boy can Lehner be mean. Not to mention he’s got that cheese board strapped to his hand.
In the second period Penguins forward Patrick Hornqvist decided to test Lehner anyways. Not a good idea.
By that point, Lehner had allowed one goal in game four and only one in the previous two games. After the altercation, Lehner would stop every single shot the Penguins would throw at him. He’d get the last laugh.
It’s never a good idea to go after a goalie. And certainly not one as large as Lehner. The 6’4″ 240lbs shot stopper not only has the size, but he’s protected and even weaponized.
Not to mention what happens when that strategy doesn’t work. By going after Lehner, the Penguins just galvanized Lehner’s resolve. He knew the Pens only answer was to get him out of the game. They didn’t and they couldn’t find a way back into the game and into the series.