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Logan Thompson Stepped Up When Golden Knights Needed Him Most

Robin Lehner is back for the Golden Knights, but Thompson did an admirable job in his absence.

Florida Panthers v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Logan Thompson made his first NHL start for the Vegas Golden Knights on January 4, 2022, his second start on February 20, and his third start on March 13 which ultimately was the first of nine starts in 10 games. Up until that point, Thompson primarily was an AHL netminder, but he was thrust into the starting goaltender position on a Vegas team that was in freefall.

Robin Lehner is back between the pipes and has won two of the last three games for the Golden Knights, but Thompson deserves a lot of credit for helping to steady the ship.

Between March 13 and April 1, Thompson started 10 games which was the most of all goaltenders in the NHL during that period. Using NHL dot com numbers, Thompson went 6-3-0, and posted a 2.65 goals against average and .917 save percentage. At first glance those numbers look slightly above average, but in actuality are pretty solid for a goaltender of Thompson’s experience level. But when you look a little deeper, Thompson’s performance was a little better than you’d think.

During the same period in question, Thompson stopped 2.75 goals above average, and 2.63 goals above expected, and he ranked 9th and 13th among goaltenders who made more than two starts between March 13 and April 1 per Evolving-Hockey.com.

Understandably this is a small sample, but the purpose of this exercise is to look at what Thompson was able to provide for his team when they needed it. On March 13, the Golden Knights had a record of 32-25-4 with 68 points, and on April 1 they stood at 38-28-4 with 80 points.

NHL.com

After last night’s victory, the Golden Knights are now 40-29-4 with 84 points, and sit two points behind Dallas and Nashville, the two teams occupying the Wild Card spots, and Los Angeles who is sitting in third place in the Pacific Division. The Golden Knights have played in two more games than each of those three teams, and will need some luck. Vegas will play Dallas once more, and that looks to be the team that will be easiest to catch from a logistics standpoint.

Hockey is a team sport, and players like Jonathan Marchessault (13 points in 11 games), Chandler Stephenson (11 points in 11 games), Evgenii Dadonov (9 points in 9 games), Jack Eichel (9 points in 11 games), and Alex Pietrangelo (9 points in 11 games) among others also stepped up for the Golden Knights during the stretch when Thompson held down the crease.

But even with that said, Thompson deserves some recognition for earning tough victories like a 33-save performance against the Florida Panthers, 38 saves vs. the Los Angeles Kings, and 35 stops against the Nashville Predators. Had any of these games against playoff teams resulted in a loss, it would be a lot harder for the Golden Knights to attempt the comeback they are currently in the midst in.

He ultimately picked up his first career shutout vs. the Seattle Kraken, and in many ways it was a nice moment for him to earn that just before Lehner came back into the picture healthy and ready to try and push the team from when Thompson left things off.

In early 2021, Pete DeBoer spoke about Thompson knocking on the NHL door, and how his journey to the NHL was one of perseverance as an undrafted player.

Over a year later Thompson has finally broke through, and has started the journey of attempting to make a name for himself in a league where there are only 64 spots to play goal. We ultimately don’t know how things will shake out for the final games of the season, but Thompson’s performance this year has been a very nice story.

In many ways with all the bad luck with injuries to top players, this has truly been the year of “next man up,” whether it be Nicolas Roy, or Brett Howden among many others, but Thompson’s role in the story of the 2021-22 Golden Knights is one that could be remembered in an even bigger way if Vegas can find a way to lock down a playoff spot.