BOSTON — Rookie Robin Lehner is expected to start in goal Tuesday for the Ottawa Senators against the Boston Bruins.
After that, who knows? By the time the Senators return from the current road trip, he could be the club’s No. 1 goaltender, No. 2 goaltender or he could be back in Binghamton of the American Hockey League.
Lehner is doing everything he can to focus solely on stopping pucks, trying not to be distracted by trade speculation involving Ben Bishop and the steadily-improving health of Craig Anderson.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” said Lehner, who hasn’t played since the Senators’ 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning March 23. “I can’t think about. It’s nothing that I can impact. Whatever happens … when something happens, you have to deal with it. It will be interesting.”
Bishop is a huge bargaining chip for Senators general manager Bryan Murray in advance of Wednesday’s trade deadline, enough to possibly secure a hard-checking, high-scoring winger. Calgary Flames winger Curtis Glencross, who has 14 goals and eight assists in 31 games with the Calgary Flames, has figured in the trade speculation, but the Senators are also looking at other options. Former Senators-killer Jason Pominville could also be in play.
If, however, the Senators choose to deal Bishop now, they’re gambling on the successful return of Anderson, who has missed the past six weeks with a sprained ankle. Anderson continues to make progress at practice and he’s on the trip, but neither he nor coach Paul MacLean was willing to commit to a possible start in Buffalo Friday or in Florida Sunday.
“I don’t want to look too far in the future and pick a date and have to keep pushing it back,” Anderson said following Monday’s workout in Ottawa. “Right now, I want to make sure (Tuesday’s) practice is better than today.”
Anderson doesn’t want to leave anything to chance when he makes the leap of faith to get back into the net, making sure he’s comfortable doing everything and that the ankle can stand up to anything.
“Maybe I’ll get Colin Greening to run into me a few times or something,” he said, smiling.
While Lehner is trying to put blinders on to all of the above, the veterans in the dressing room recognize that it’s next to impossible to block out all the trade talk.
“With the amount of hype and rumours, it is tough on guys,” said defenceman Chris Phillips. “Just to throw guys’ names out there and they’re sitting there, not knowing they were on the block — and they might not be — that makes it tough for a couple of days, a couple of weeks, whatever.”
Phillips says there’s excellent spirit in the dressing room, much of it resulting from the fact so many of the younger players developed together with the Calder Cup winning Binghamton Senators.
“If they’re going to do add anything, you would like to add it without subtracting (an existing player),” he said.
The Senators will meet up with Kaspars Daugavins Tuesday. The winger, who was popular in the dressing room, was claimed off waivers by Boston last week.
“It’s not fun,” said defenceman Marc Methot. “It’s not an easy situation when you don’t want to move. You develop a lot of strong relationships with the guys and in the city you’re in, but it is a business, part of the game.”
Methot acknowledges there will be anxiety for everyone until the deadline passes Wednesday.
“You keep your phone on and I guess you breathe a little easier when the time passes,” he said. “We’re fortunate in a sense that we’re on the road together. There will be a lot of jokes about it.”
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