The Ottawa Senators have struggled to win games this year. That is, until No. 2 goalie Robin Lehner steps in. With Craig Anderson still nursing a sore neck after a brutal run in with Valeri Nichushkin earlier this week, the Senators have gone with Lehner in two consecutive games and have won both contests.
Correlation does not imply causation, but it’s tough to look the other way when Lehner is making 40-plus saves a night and giving the Senators a chance to win even when they’re badly outplayed and out-shot.
Through seven games played this season, Lehner has been spectacular. His 2.15 GAA is much lower than that of Anderson (3.14). Lehner’s save percentage is also much higher than Anderson’s SVP (.947 vs .912).
It isn’t that Anderson hasn’t been good, because he has been. Lehner has just been playing on another level. He’s already made 50-plus saves for the team twice this year, and the Sens could have lost to the Montreal Canadiens last night. Lehner was heroic in a 33-save performance though, and pushed Ottawa over the top when the team probably shouldn’t have won.
It’d be one thing if this was just a random streak, but any time Lehner has been given a chance to make some starts for Ottawa he’s been impressive. Through 12 games last year he put up very similar numbers (2.20 GAA, .936 SVP). Could this sustained high level of play make Anderson expendable?
With so many teams looking for help in net, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ottawa make a move of some kind. They did the same thing when they traded Ben Bishop away to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and while he’s been outstanding in Florida, the Senators could add help elsewhere by dealing away either goalie.
It’d be just as likely to see them hold onto both moving forward though, given Anderson’s tendency to get hurt. Could Lehner take over as the No. 1 in Ottawa while Anderson recovers from his injury? It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen it happen this season (Minnesota Wild) and it wouldn’t be surprising either.
Lehner is giving the Senators a very high level of goaltending right now, and it’s tough to leave that on the bench while the team continues to crank out losses in front of Anderson.