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Golden Knights to name playoff goalie after Qualifiers

DeBoer says choosing between Fleury, Lehner 'a good problem to have'

by Danny Webster / Independent Correspondent

Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner will use the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to determine the starting goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"My plan is both guys are going to play through the round-robin," Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think coming off a four-month pause, in order to make sure that we get everybody up to speed and are fair and have all the information at our disposal in the playoffs, that's the right thing to do. They'll probably play two and two (games each), and then we'll make some tough decisions. How long those decisions last, they're not written in stone."

Fleury or Lehner will start the exhibition game against the Arizona Coyotes in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city, on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NHLN, FS-A Plus, NHL.TV) and the other goalie will start the first of three round-robin games in the qualifiers, against the Dallas Stars on Aug. 3.

"We've thrown some ideas around for how we're going to do it," DeBoer said. "We haven't made any final decisions yet. I do know that I'm not a big fan of splitting goalies half-game. So whoever we start with, we'll plan on ending with that game to give them the entire game."

The Golden Knights rotated goalies after acquiring Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade on Feb. 24, prior to the NHL season being paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Lehner was 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .940 save percentage in three games with Vegas.

Fleury, who has started all 27 playoff games in Golden Knights history, was 27-16-5 with a 2.77 GAA and .905 save percentage, his worst statistics in three seasons with them. He was 2-2-0 with a 2.51 GAA and .894 save percentage after Lehner was acquired.

"At the end of the day, all that matters is winning, that's why we are all here," Fleury said this month. "Playoffs come and you have to be selfless and do what is right for the team. I just want to win, it doesn't matter how it is."

The Golden Knights (39-24-8, .606 points percentage) will play the Stars, St. Louis Blues (Aug. 6) and Colorado Avalanche (Aug. 8) in the round robin to determine seeding for the Western Conference in the playoffs. The games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

"Whoever we start that can change very quickly depending on how the playoffs go, injuries, matchups and things like that," DeBoer said. "We've got two guys that everybody, whoever is standing in that net, is capable of helping us win. It's a good problem to have."

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