Senators pick Lehner to start against Bruins

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If the Ottawa Senators want to avoid the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one of the 2013 playoffs, they’ll need a strong performance from much-touted goalie Robin Lehner.

The team announced that the 21-year-old will start in net against the Boston Bruins instead of Craig Anderson on Saturday.

It makes sense to rest Anderson on back-to-back nights, but some probably wondered if the Senators would opt to play him anyway because Ottawa still has something to gain by winning today. Again, as the eighth seed, they’d face Pittsburgh; alternatively, if they win against Boston, they’ll jump to the seventh seed and face the struggling Montreal Canadiens.

Lehner’s been the victim of bad luck. His 4-3-4 record doesn’t tell the true story of his production; the young netminder has a sterling .936 save percentage and 2.22 GAA in 2013.

In other Senators lineup news, Guillaume Latendresse will dress as a forward. Sportsnet’s Ian Mendes believes that he might spell Milan Michalek, but we’ll have to wait and see about that.

Senators-Bruins game will decide Northeast title


Both the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators will have something to play for in Sunday’s postponed game, which is the last contest of the NHL’s 2013 regular season.

Saturday’s results made it certain that tomorrow’s game will matter. The Boston Bruins lost to the Washington Capitals 3-2 in OT while the Montreal Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1.

That victory gives the Habs a temporary lead for the Northeast Division title. They now have 63 standings points and hold the regulation/OT win tiebreaker.

With that, the Bruins’ goal is clear: Boston needs any kind of win against Ottawa to take the division title (and the second seed in the East). The Northeast Division runner-up will have home ice advantage against the Maple Leafs, who clinched the fifth seed.

Ottawa still has something on the line. The Senators are currently in eighth place in the East but only trail the seventh-ranked New York Islanders by one standings point.

Depending upon how things shake out, today’s Montreal-Toronto game and tomorrow’s Ottawa-Boston scuffle could very well serve as a pair of playoff previews. Plenty can change, however.

Northeast staring contest continues between Bruins, Habs


The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens seem like they’re in a game of “H-O-R-S-E” for the Northeast Division title.

Both teams lost on Tuesday, but to mix things up, they both earned victories on Thursday. Boston beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 while the Canadiens kicked the Winnipeg Jets while they were down with a 4-2 triumph.

It sets up some intrigue in the 2013 season’s final days. Here is the standings scenario:

Boston: 28-13-5 for 61 points, two games left, 24 regulation/overtime wins
Montreal: 28-14-5 for 61 points, one game left, 25 regulation/overtime wins

The Bruins face the Washington Capitals on Saturday and then host the Ottawa Senators in a postponed game on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Habs visit the Toronto Maple Leafs in their final game on Saturday.

Boston can merely take it with three points in its next two games, but with Montreal’s ROW advantage, there’s at least potential for some drama. All three of the teams that the B’s and Canadiens will face have already clinched playoff spots but not seeding situations, so it opens the doors for some interesting healthy scratch decisions.

Overall, it sets up to be an interesting race to watch, especially since these two teams have a tendency to throw in a few twists and turns.

Bruins’ Krejci hopes most recent loss was needed ‘slap in the face’

David Krejci

The last time the Boston Bruins played a game, they dropped an opportunity to improve their Northeast Division lead by losing handily to the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2. David Krejci told that he hopes that embarrassment will work like an alarm clock for a sleepy-looking team.

“I think we have had our wake-up calls in the last couple of games. Maybe the Philly game was a slap in the face,” Krejci said. “We know we haven’t been playing the way we want to. At this time of year you don’t want to think about negative stuff, though. We have three games left, so that’s what we should focus on.”

If any Bruins player needs a little splash of water to the face, it’s the 26-year-old center. Krejci scored a goal on Tuesday, but that broke a five-game pointless streak. Overall, he’s scored just one goal and one assist in his last 10 games.

Some might want to dismiss Krejci’s importance to the Bruins, but here’s an easy fact that underscores his ability: his 23 points topped all scorers in the 2011 playoffs.

The Czech forward and the rest of the B’s host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Bruins’ Horton (upper body) to miss third straight game, but ‘progressing well’


There’s a good news, bad news scenario at play regarding Nathan Horton.

The good news is the Boston forward skated on Thursday morning.

The bad news is he won’t play Thursday night.

Horton will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury against the Lightning, still feeling the effects of whatever he hurt during a fight with Pittsburgh’s Jarome Iginla on Saturday.

B’s head coach Claude Julien said Horton is “on the right track” and “progressing well,” though it remains to be seen if the 27-year-old will get back into the lineup before the playoffs.

The Bruins have two games remaining after tonight’s tilt against the Bolts — Saturday in Washington and Sunday at home against the Senators.

You’d think Boston would want to get Horton back in the lineup as soon as possible.

While he’s had a somewhat inconsistent year, he remains one of the club’s best net-front presences and is third in goals, with 13 — an important figure, as all 13 have come at even strength.