Just before practice started Thursday in KeyBank Center, Robin Lehner looked like something from the "Friday the 13th" series. He had on an old fiberglass mask worn by former NHL goalie Paul Harrison with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the late 70s and for six games during the 1981-82 season with the Sabres. Lehner was apparently pondering it for the Winter Classic and let goalie coach Andrew Allen take some shots on him.
It only took a couple shots for Lehner to get Allen to lob one up high. Experiment over.
"It was an old Buffalo mask. I tried it on and I have a lot of respect for them," Lehner said sheepishly. "I took one off the dome and it felt pretty good. We'll see if we can beef it up."
Lehner said he might consider wearing the mask for warmups when the Sabres and Rangers play Jan. 1 in Citi Field but it seems unlikely it would be his game gear. Lehner spent the rest of practice with a new design by Swedish mask maven Dave Gunnarsson and it featured the new secondary charging Buffalo logo created for the game plus tributes to Dominik Hasek.
"It turned out fine," Lehner said as he displayed it to reporters at his locker. "There's a nice look to it. Couple of Dominik Haseks on it both sides. I tell Dave what I want and he's a pretty creative guy who does what he wants."
Lehner said he had not seen the new goalie pads unveiled Wednesday on Instagram by Rangers counterpart Henrik Lundqvist and that he may not have any new pads in the works.
"I'm deliberating on a few options," he said. "And we'll see what happens."
All the equipment talk shows how players can bring more personality to the outdoor game and get away from the monotony of just another regular season contest.
"We all look forward to it," Lehner said. "It's going to be a helluva experience, something we're
all going to remember for a while."