It was a sarcastic gesture but still, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson had quite the response when asked what it was like to go up against the soon-to-be all-time goal-scoring leader Alex Ovechkin for the first time in his career.
“He’s ok,” Thompson said.
Ovechkin scored two against the Golden Knights and got to the 50-goal mark for the ninth time in his career Thursday. But this “ok” performance didn’t seem to faze Thompson, who made a huge breakaway stop on Ovi in the third period (see featured image) and the Golden Knights won the game in overtime 4-3 thanks to Shea Theodore.
You’d be forgiven if you forgot that Thompson did not start the game for the Golden Knights. Rather, he was put in goal for Robin Lehner after the first period. Lehner allowed two weak goals against the New Jersey Devils on Monday and then in the first period against the Capitals, let in another goal one that he would like to have back.
— Capitals Replays (@capsreplays) April 21, 2022
Lehner made the initial save on a shot by Ovechkin. But the puck trickled through his pads and Evgeny Kuznetsov found the loose change. Lehner finished the period, but head coach Peter DeBoer replaced him with Thompson in the second, citing the team’s energy level as a reason why.
“I really liked our start but I thought we gave up that first goal and we looked like we were rattled as a team for the rest of the period. So it was just to try and switch some momentum and reset ourselves and get ready for the rest of the game,” said DeBoer.
Lehner has struggled to find his game in the six games he has started since returning from a lower-body injury. With the Golden Knight’s playoff hopes on the line, Lehner has simply not been good enough.
“We pay him to start games like this. It is the most important time of the year. He’s healthy, he is fresh, and he has got a lot of energy and we need him at this point in the year. I think after that New Jersey game I felt like I wanted to give him the opportunity to bounce back and have a big game for us,” said DeBoer.
As we already know, Lehner did not bounce back in the game against the Capitals as Thompson came in to replace him. It turned out to be the right call as the team rallied around their new goalie and Thompson made 12 of 14 saves for the win.
“Logan game off of the bench did a hell of a job, and he’s done that all year for us and we’ll enjoy the win tonight. We have got a lot of big efforts from a lot of different guys,” said DeBoer.
Thompson stated that he felt a little uneasy in the situation, taking over for Lehner after only one goal was allowed, but was happy he was able to provide the goaltending his team needed for the win.
“As a goalie partner, you don’t like to be in that situation. Robin is a massive part of our team and he loves everyone so you never want to see that. But I am just happy we got two points tonight,” said Thompson.
So what does all of this mean?
It is clear that Robin Lehner is struggling and that the Golden Knights simply play a better game when Logan Thompson is in the net.
Confidence plays a huge part in a goaltender’s success, and I personally feel that Lehner and Thompson are on the complete opposite spectrum when it comes to their confidence levels. On the one hand, you have Lehner who is struggling to regain his footing on a team whose fanbase loves to criticize him.
Then, on the other hand, you have a 25-year-old up-and-coming goalie in Thompson who is embracing the role he has been given and not letting anything faze him from Alex Ovechkin to goalie coaches in their mom’s basement.
I know who I would start going forward. But I am not Peter DeBoer.
“We’ll enjoy this tonight and worry about next game’s lineup over the next couple of days,” says DeBoer.
The Golden Knights will play the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at 7:00 pm. Then they have what will possibly be the most important game of the season on Tuesday against the Dallas Stars on the road.
Here is an updated look at the Vegas Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup Playoff odds and chances.