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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Senators Mistreat Lehner — Ottawa will Lose Against Bruins if Meet in 1st Round of Playoffs

In a previous article entitled, “Bryan Murray, Lehner, Bishop and Auld,” I spoke about Senators VP and GM Bryan Murray and I was very concerned about his decisions regarding his goaltenders. I stated that with Anderson out of the line-up, Robin Lehner was definitely their best goalie and that they should have relied on him if Anderson could not make it back before the playoffs or was not able to get back into form in time. I was also concerned about Bryan Murray’s statements after acquiring Ben Bishop from the Blues, because he suggested that Bishop was going to get the call over Lehner—despite the fact that Bishop had been a minor-league goalie for years and had never proven himself at the NHL level! How can you make a decision on a goalie when he has only played a handful of NHL games in several years and has not played a game for your team? Furthermore, as a GM, are you not supposed to give the goalie who is playing the best the opportunity to win for your team—and Lehner proved he was the best! To be kind, let me just say that Murray is definitely one of the worst GM’s in the league.   

From my previous article, I quote:

“After Craig Anderson lacerated a tendon in his pinky finger (while in his kitchen), 20 year old Robin Lehner was brought up from Binghamton (Senators AHL affiliate) and Auld started the next game which was at home against the Bruins. Boston won by a score of 5-3 and Auld let in four goals in 37 shots, which gave him a Save Percentage in the game of 0.892—not impressive at all. 

In the following game against the Islanders, Lehner was given the start and he performed outstanding, stopping 28 of 30 shots which equated to a Save Percentage of .933. He was the 1st Star in the game.

The Senators then went on the road to play the Bruins. The Senators had not beaten them this year and Robin Lehner was given his second straight start. He totally shut-down the Bruins by stopping 32 shots and earning his first NHL shutout! Once again, he was named the 1st Star in the game.

The Senators returned home to play the Blackhawks and Lehner was given his third straight start. He played great in stopping 37 shots in a 2-1 loss, and was named the 2nd Star of the game.   

The Senators then traveled to Florida to play the Panthers. The entire Ottawa team did not play well, including Lehner who was not as good as his previous three starts. The Panthers won the game 4-2.

Then Bryan Murray decided to send Lehner back to Binghamton and to bring up Ben Bishop.”

Well, Bishop was brought up and was not great in his first game against the Lightning, and his Save Percentage was .893. In his second game, against the Rangers, he was better but was nervous at the beginning of the game and let in a weak goal. In the following half a dozen games he had some good games and some average games and really wasn’t anything special—but better than Alex Auld for sure. At that point, Murray should have put Auld on waivers, or even sent him to the minors, but he did not. Lehner should have been given the starting position and not Bishop, at least until Anderson was back in the line-up and playing his best hockey; but, Murray sent Lehner down and Lehner remains in the minors right now—unbelievable!

Well, Bryan Murray’s mistreatment of Lehner worked against him because Bishop injured his groin and will be out for the season. If the Senators want to play Anderson I can understand that, but why isn’t Robin Lehner the back-up right now? Let’s take a look at the stats of the four goaltenders and then I will talk about the Senators likely 1st Round playoff match-up against the Bruins, and let me just state that only ONE Senator goalie has beaten the Bruins this year in five games between the teams.

Craig Anderson:  In 62 games he has a Save Percentage of .914, only three shutouts, and a GAA of 2.83.

Alex Auld:  In 14 games he has a brutal Save Percentage of .884, zero shutouts, and a GAA of 3.35.

Ben Bishop:  In nine games he has a Save Percentage of .912, zero shutouts, and a GAA of 2.41.

Robin Lehner:  In five games he has a Save Percentage of .935, one shutout, and a GAA of 2.01.

Clearly, Lehner and Anderson are the two best goalies of the four, and when you consider Lehner’s overall play in the four games that he played after Anderson was injured (1st Star, 1st Star, 2nd Star), you can’t help but see that Bryan Murray has grossly mistreated Lehner!

If I was Lehner, I would not sign any long-term deals with the Senators, and when restricted free agency comes around I would not sign but wait and see what offers come from other teams to see if the Senators want to put out a lot of money. I would also go through salary arbitration if necessary.

Senators—Bruins Playoff Match-up

The Senators have lost four of the five games against the Bruins this year, and they will play once more on Thursday before their likely meeting in the post-season.

In the first three losses, Craig Anderson was in net. Then he lacerated his finger and the Senators played Auld in the next game against the Bruins on February 25 in Ottawa. The Bruins were victorious again and won by a score of 5-3. Three days later, the Senators visited Boston and Lehner was given the start. Lehner played outstanding and made 32 saves and earned a shutout in a 1-0 victory. He was the 1st Star of the game and it was the only victory that the Sens have had over the Bruins this year.

Thus said, why is Lehner in the minors right now? Why was he sent down in favor of Ben Bishop? Why is the Senator organization mistreating Lehner? Why is the Senator organization clearly not interested in giving the team and fans the best chance of winning? Well, due to their bias towards Auld and Bishop, I hope that the Sens get knocked-out quickly by the Bruins. This would be a good lesson for Bryan Murray and maybe the fans would voice their displeasure like they did last year. Get Murray out and watch the Senators improve greatly!

TJ Stanley