Looking to make the leap: Robin Lehner

With Robin Lehner locked up to a new three-year contract and Craig Anderson a pending unrestricted free agent, general manager Bryan Murray could have a nice problem on his hands.

That’s if Lehner, 23, can make the leap and take the reigns as a starting goaltender in the NHL.

Speaking to the Sens website following the announcement of his new deal, Lehner didn’t exactly sound like a goaltender who is ready to take the reigns as a No. 1, which could prove to be a whole new problem for Murray.

“I think if I can develop more and get better we have a strong tandem,” he said. “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 I think we have a good team going forward.

“I’ll just be happy with competing every day and getting a chance to get a fair battle.”

Lehner has appeared in 61 regular season games for Ottawa where he has a record of 21-24-10 along with a 2.82 GAA and a .918 save percentage.

If Lehner can’t handle a heavier workload, Murray will be forced to re-sign Anderson, who will see his four-year, $12.8 million contract expire next July. At 33, Anderson is a veteran in the league and isn’t the type, who’d likely be willing to sign for just one year.

With a young family, he’d probably require the security of a multi-year deal, which could in the long run handcuff Murray.

Murray’s other option would be to acquire a goaltender via trade or free agency next summer.

Lehner, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound Swedish native has never really had the opportunity to be a starter in the NHL mainly filling the backup role with the Senators.

Last month, Lehner wasn’t ready to talk about the possibility of being the top goaltender in Ottawa.

“We’re talking future and it’s a little irrelevant,” he said. “I just want to keep proving myself, keep getting better and what happens happens.

“I don’t know what will happen in a few months or a few years, the only thing I know is I’ve tried my best so far and I’ve done everything I can for the organization to prove to them and they’ve rewarded me with a very good contract I think. I think I’ve got a lot to show that I deserve it too. I think it’s good for both sides.”

At the same time, Lehner admits he’d like more playing time in the future.

“The guy that says he doesn’t will be lying to you,” Lehner said.

Lehner does have an impressive resume at the AHL level. He backstopped the Binghamton Senators to a Calder Cup victory in 2011 and was named playoff MVP for his efforts.

He appeared in 36 games for Ottawa last season compiling a 12-15-6 record to go along with a 3.06 GAA and a .913 save percentage.

Lehner was Ottawa’s second-round pick (46th overall) at the 2009 NHL Draft.

Related: New responsibilities coming for Sens’ Turris

Predators survive Blues’ big late push to win Game 1

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The Nashville Predators’ 4-3 Game 1 win against the St. Louis Blues makes it difficult to use “perfect.”

You could get away with using that word, mind you, as the Predators followed up their surprising sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks by going up 1-0 against the Blues in St. Louis. Still, the ride was so bumpy in the third period, it’s probably wiser to focus on the fact that Nashville is unbeaten.

Because, yikes, that third period was a roller coaster for Nashville.

via Natural Stat Trick

P.K. Subban scored a goal and two assists in the first 40 minutes to help the Predators bring a 3-1 lead into the final frame. The Blues absolutely dominated play in the third, however, briefly tying the game as they put immense pressure on Pekka Rinne & Co.

Ultimately, the Predators received a game-winner from an unlikely source in Vernon Fiddler, gaining a 1-0 series edge.

Even so, few will talk about “mystique” after that shaky finish.

For one thing, both Rinne and Jake Allen allowed goals that they’d like to forget. Also, both squads experienced lopsided periods; Nashville dominated shots in the second (15-8) while the Blues almost doubled-up the Preds in the third (11-6).

Nashville also seems likely to play without rising rookie Kevin Fiala, who was hospitalized after an absolutely horrifying crash into the boards.

It was a weird and often wild – sometimes nasty – contest, with the Predators ultimately coming out on top. There’s plenty of intrigue heading into Game 2, which airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. (You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; here’s the livestream link.)

WATCH LIVE: Second round begins with Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks

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Update: With both games likely to run simultaneously, note that Ducks fans can watch on NBCSN in the Anaheim market while the game is also available via streaming links below.

In addition to that, Ducks – Oilers is slated to begin on NHL Network.

This tweet explains it in additional detail.

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The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs is set to begin on Wednesday, and the NBC Sports Group has you covered with wall-to-wall coverage.

We start with a battle of the hottest goalies in the postseason so far as Jake Allen and the Blues host Pekka Rinne and the Predators. The duo of Game 1’s wraps up when Connor McDavid and the Oilers take on Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks.

Here’s what you need to know:

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks 

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online)

Video: Austin Watson takes a shot at Vladimir Tarasenko

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The St. Louis Blues and their fans showed class in how they reacted to Kevin Fiala‘s very, very scary injury during Game 1.

Still, these are two physical Central Division rivals, so you expect to see some nastiness here and there between the Blues and Nashville Predators.

One moment that will likely divide onlookers came when Predators tough guy Austin Watson got a shot in on Vladimir Tarasenko, at least briefly hurting the world-class sniper.

It’s unlikely to be a big deal since Tarasenko seems to be OK, but there may be some debate here. On one hand, there are those who believe Watson got away with a cheap shot; on the other, some seem to imply that there was some embellishment. Maybe it’s even a combination of the two?

Either way, the Predators enter the third period up 3-1, so St. Louis will likely ask Tarasenko to focus on getting revenge by scoring goals.

Blues just have no answer for P.K. Subban right now

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In the first round, P.K. Subban was dominant against the Chicago Blackhawks, but mainly if you look at “fancy stats.” There’s nothing wrong with two assists in that sweep, but those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers.

You don’t need to dig deep to see his impact on Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues. A mere glance at the box score – or a chance to see his blistering shot – and you’ll realize that the Nashville Predators defenseman has been a nightmare for Jake Allen & Co. so far on Wednesday.

Subban seemingly scored his first postseason goal with the Predators to make it 1-0, but Colin Wilson was actually credited with the tally.

No bother there. Subban gave the Predators a crucial lift shortly after player resumed following Kevin Fiala‘s horrifying injury, getting that first Predators playoff goal with another booming shot.

Subban managed to draw a slashing penalty on Scottie Upshall and also sent another huge shot to set up a James Neal goal. There’s no mistaking that P.K. has played a huge role in Nashville going up 3-1 so far; the Blues need to find some answers, and fast.