NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Robin Lehner’s storybook season just keeps getting better.
On Monday, the Islanders’ lead goaltender was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week.
Just in case you’ve been been living under a rock for the last four months, Lehner penned an article in The Athletic prior to the start of the regular season about his struggles with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, not long after signing a one-year, $1.5 million prove-it deal with the Islanders as a free agent.
What has happened since is the stuff of Hollywood. Lehner, 27, has been embraced by Islanders fans and hockey enthusiasts across North America for not only his stellar play, but the humility he has shown waging a very public fight against opponents much more dangerous than anyone he’d actually face on the ice on any given night.
“I was in a very dark place,” Lehner said Sunday after making 19 saves in a 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. “I didn’t see much in the future at one point. My family, my wife, my kids, this organization, everybody is helping me.”
Lehner has been one of the driving forces behind the Islanders’ stunning run to the top of the Metropolitan Division. With 62 points, New York has come a very long way in a short period of time since hiring legendary general manager Lou Lamoriello and Stanley Cup-winning head coach Barry Trotz in a franchise shakeup that followed last season’s failure to make the playoffs. Despite the changes, the Isles were unable to convince John Tavares, their franchise player, to stay as he left via free agency for a $77 million, seven-year contract with Toronto.
But, through 48 games this season the Islanders have two more points than the Maple Leafs, who added Tavares to an already star-studded roster that is among the league’s best.
The Islanders, who have won five straight and play at Chicago on Tuesday before heading off on their All-Star break, are getting it done with defense, goaltending and timely offense all rolled up into one inside Trotz’s proven system.
Lehner has performed even bigger than his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame as he currently leads the NHL with a 2.02 goals-against average and is second with a .930 save percentage.
He went 3-0 with a 0.67 GAA and .970 save percentage last week, stopping 65 of 67 shots. A native of Gothernburg, Sweden, Lehner has won 11 of his last 12 starts, posting a 1.30 GAA, .953 save percentage and two shutouts.
“I said, coming into this season, I know I can play hockey, I know I’m a good goalie. I’ll keep working with this organization, keep working as a person, keep growing as a person within this group. It’s tremendous,” Lehner said.
Overall, Lehner is 15-7-3 with three shutouts this season and may very well end up as the Islanders’ solution in net for years to come.