Robin Lehner has channeled his inner Billy Smith.
Lehner was emerging as the Islanders starting goalie with the playoffs right around the corner when the Senators’ Brady Tkachuk came barreling down and railroaded him on March 5 at the Coliseum. It presumably gave Lehner a concussion, forcing him from that game and keeping him out until he returned to practice Wednesday.
But just like Smith, the sharp-edged netminder of the Islanders’ glory years, Lehner was none too pleased with a collision he deemed not only avoidable, but intentional, regardless of whether Tkachuk was pushed from behind by the Islanders’ Brock Nelson — which was the call when the collision resulted in the game-tying goal.
So the next time any player comes storming into the crease, starting with Thursday’s Coliseum match against the Canadiens (when Lehner could be available but is more likely to back up), he might try to make sure he defends himself.
“Got to be honest, everyone always does it on purpose, which is fine. It’s part of hockey,” Lehner said. “But there are a few guys in the league who always do it intentionally on goalies. They’re just brought up and taught that way. It doesn’t matter if [Nelson] pushed on him or not, he’s coming into me, that’s just part of his game. I’m just happy I’m not out longer.
“It happened towards my neck, and I was more worried about my knees. My left knee got put in a really bad position. Plays like that, all of sudden, you tear a knee and [your] career is over. They’re the ones that do it. It’s still part of the game. Maybe I need to brace myself more for next time. Next time someone comes in, I’ll protect myself and we’ll see if they do it again.”