Sens assistant GM is ‘confident we are a playoff team’

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The Ottawa Senators locked up an important part of their goaltending future by signing Robin Lehner to an extension on Thursday, yet the future seems cloudy for that team … even at that position.

Even so, Senators assistant GM Pierre Dorion appears confident about the outlook for both his goaltending tandem and team overall after what’s already been a challenging offseason for the franchise. Critics of this summer’s transactions might be a bit surprised about the optimistic outlook he shared with the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.

Getting Lehner, 23, signed for the near-future was key, yet the franchise still has some big moves to make, as key forwards Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur will see their contracts expire after the 2014-15 season. Dorion told Garrioch that he’s had “productive talks” with both, although it doesn’t sound like a deal is imminent for either.

Again, the Lehner signing doesn’t answer every question in net, either; the Senators also employ a prominent goalie in veteran Craig Anderson, who only has one year left on his contract. The signs seem to point to the No. 1 gig being transferred to Lehner, yet the team doesn’t seem like its totally shut the door on keeping Anderson, 33, around as well. Dorion said that extension talks might increase over the next few weeks now that the Lehner contract is settled.

” … It only helps us having a quality tandem of Craig and Robin moving forward and if it stays like that for one year it stays like that for one year,” Dorion said. “If it stays like that for more than one year we’ll see where we go with it.”

Lehner didn’t deny the notion that he wants to increase his workload next season after notching 36 games played in 2013-14, yet he seems aware that he’ll face competition from Anderson.

“I’m not in a place where I think I should play every game even if it goes really well, I think we have a strong tandem and we have a good team,” Lehner said. “I’ll just be happy with competing every day and getting a chance to get a fair battle.”

Much like the Senators team as a whole, Lehner still has some work to do. It’s clear that the organization will give him every chance to prove that he can pull it off, too.

It remains to be seen if the Swede has what it takes to back up Dorion’s claims of boasting a playoff-level team, though.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.