'Awkward alert': Golden Knights' Lehner excited to face former team
Dave Sandford / National Hockey League / Getty

Six starts ago, Robin Lehner was playing for the Chicago Blackhawks. Next week, he'll face his former team in Round 1 of the playoffs as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights.

The goaltender said he's excited about the challenge after backstopping the Knights to a 4-3 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

"It's going to be fun playing them," Lehner said, according to Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times.

"They're a very good hockey team and I have a lot of respect for them, their whole organization. But I really like it here, we're a great hockey team (too) and we'll do well against them."

Lehner seemingly admitted on Twitter that it could get a bit awkward facing his former team.

Despite his complimentary remarks Saturday, Lehner revealed after his trade to Vegas at the deadline that he wasn't exactly thrilled with how his tenure in the Windy City unfolded.

"I went to Chicago to help them out and got promises of getting a fair chance to play," Lehner said after the trade, according to Pope. "I didn't play much in the beginning or the middle-beginning of the season, even if I played really well and had a good camp. Eventually I took over, and I won like nine out of 10 (games) ... and we walked up one point behind a playoff spot. Then all of a sudden, I found myself on the bench for no reason. That was tough. Plus, negotiations had totally died out."

Lehner now has the chance to get the last laugh and doesn't seem to think much about the idea that the Blackhawks will have an advantage due to a familiarity with his tendencies.

With the playoffs looking like a long shot at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, the Blackhawks shipped Lehner - a pending unrestricted free agent - to the Golden Knights in exchange for Malcolm Subban, Stanislav Demin, and a 2020 second-round pick. But Chicago snuck into the qualifying round of the expanded postseason format as the West's No. 12 seed and upset the Edmonton Oilers in four games.

Lehner spent the majority of the 2019-20 campaign sharing Chicago's crease with Corey Crawford, and now the two netminders will likely go head to head in a best-of-seven series, though there's no guarantee Lehner starts Game 1 over veteran Marc-Andre Fleury.

A 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist, Lehner posted a .920 save percentage, 2.89 goals-against average, and 12.67 goals saved above average in 36 regular-season games with the Hawks and Knights.

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'Awkward alert': Golden Knights' Lehner excited to face former team
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