Lehner shut out the Senators 4-0 10 days ago on Saturday night, a game that ended a pretty dismal 3 game post-All-Star road trip for the Senators. He hasn't been confirmed as the Buffalo starter but given he is the undisputed #1, and he has also owned his former club, it is a pretty safe bet he will be in the net staring down the ice at his old tandem partner, Craig Anderson. Lehner (as well as Kyle Okposo) called out his team following Buffalo's 4-2 loss on home ice to the Canucks on Sunday, for failing to execute the game plan Dan Bylsma has put into place, calling it "disrespectful". Calling teammates out is one thing, but the focus will be on him to back up his words tonight or it will be all for nothing.
Anderson made his triumphant return to the Ottawa net on Saturday, shutting out the Islanders to the tune of 3-0, the Senators second win in a row after struggling for the five previous games, pre and post All-Star break.
This is an important stretch for the Senators, as Boston is now on their bye week and Ottawa will play three of the five games in hand they have built up between now and the next time the Bruins take to the ice on Sunday. They are currently tied in points and Boston has some momentum (and a 3 game winning streak) following their coaching change and to have them come back down 5 or 6 points with Ottawa still holding a couple of games in hand would be very beneficial to the Senators aspirations for a playoff spot that includes home ice in at least the first round.
The lineup is still up in the air for Ottawa, as I said yesterday Chris Neil will be back in, but Guy Boucher was still considering dressing seven defensemen. That may have changed this morning as Chris Wideman left today's morning skate early and could be questionable for tonight.
The key for Ottawa is to get to Lehner early, because the longer he goes shutting down his former mates, the tougher it is going to be to beat him. They might want to agitate him a bit to get him off his game, a tactic that looked like it had some success for the Canucks (most notably Alex Burrows) on Sunday.
Pierre Dorion was on TSN1200 yesterday, and covered a wide range of topics. At the forefront was his discussions with the Colorado Avalanche and the Matt Duchene/Gabriel Landeskog rumors and how he wasn't ready to part with 3-5 assets to get that deal done. He also hinted that another deal might be in the works involving someone else that might not be expected or on the radar.
Could that be Jarome Iginla?
Iginla has always been one of my, if not my favorite players ever since he came into the league, so I would love that deal to see him play in Senators colors. However, at age 39 he is clearly on the tail end of his career, he is a year removed from back to back 60 point seasons (or at least 61/59) and had 47 points last year. His production is well down this season (15 points in 53 games) but he has been more of an afterthought in Colorado as they look to the future, and has not played much in their top 6.
Is Iginla the top 6 forward that the Senators need to get over the hump. No, not really. What he does bring is a type of leadership and having been through the battles and coming so close in the NHL, while also sporting gold medals from World Juniors, World Championships, a World Cup of Hockey as well as two Olympic Gold Medals.
There is no doubt he would be a positive addition to the team but there are a couple of issues - a) if he is "the" addition, it is probably not enough, and b) if he were to be the only addition would he consider Ottawa as a destination where he could capture that elusive Stanley Cup, the one piece that is missing from his storied career.
It also depends on the return the Avs are looking for and if Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is overvaluing him like his is his other two prime trading pieces. Ottawa can't afford to give up much for the rental, and if it is going to mean touching any one of the Senators big 3 prospects - Colin White, Thomas Chabot or Logan Brown - or a first round pick, then it is a non-starter.
But then again, he might be able to show Bobby Ryan how to compete on a nightly basis and he would command the respect to be listened to in the dressing room.