Lehner, Bishop calm fears of Senators goalie crisis

Lehner, Bishop calm fears of Senators goalie crisis
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

BOSTON — A week ago, Craig Anderson sliced the baby finger on his right hand and the hearts of hockey fans in Ottawa skipped a beat.

Time to stand down. The Ottawa Senators’ goaltending situation appears to be just is fine.

As Robin Lehner was fashioning a 32-save shutout in the Senators’ 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, Ben Bishop was delivering a 41-save effort in the Binghamton Senators’ 5-1 victory over St. John’s in an American Hockey League tilt.

Instead of a crisis situation, the Senators are flying high. They’re now 7-1-1 in their past nine games, awaiting the arrival of the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Place on Friday.

Before Wednesday’s games, they sat in fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, holding a comfortable 10-point cushion over the ninth-place Winnipeg Jets.

There would also appear to be no rush to get Anderson back before he’s ready.

There was no update on Anderson’s status Wednesday — the Senators had a day off from practice — but Senators general manager Bryan Murray said on Monday the injury wasn’t as severe as first thought. It’s believed he can return to practice as soon as he can hold his goalie stick, which could come as early as this week.

Lehner has been calm and composed in the past two games. Tuesday’s shutout was preceded by Sunday’s 5-2 win over the New York Islanders.

It has only been 120 minutes of hockey, but it’s rather remarkable considering he arrived in Ottawa last Friday carrying major question marks, along with an 8-16-1 record with Binghamton. Hence, the acquisition of Bishop, the six-foot-seven giant who has been one of the AHL’s best goaltenders this year.

While Lehner has apparently learned his lessons about talking too much, too soon — he offered a string of “no comments” when asked whether he deserves to stay in the Senators’ net — his teammates were marvelling at his play against Boston.

“It’s unbelievable,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “I was joking with him, saying it would be nice to win (in Boston). I said if you have a shutout, I guarantee I can score a goal.

“There are a lot of things that have happened for him. Anderson going down and giving him a chance. Then we sign another goalie (Bishop) and he’s probably thinking his chance is over. All you can do is control your own destiny and he has done a good job so far.”

Meanwhile, if Bishop was upset at being assigned to Binghamton rather than getting an immediate shot in the big leagues, he didn’t show it Tuesday.

Like Lehner in Boston, he was the first star in Binghamton.

“The guys were really good to me when I got here yesterday. Was it today? I don’t even know,” Bishop told the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin following the game. “It has been a long couple days, but well worth it with the win. The guys played great in front of me, and that makes my job easy.

Bishop even got off to great public-relations start in a city that has often been criticized by players.

“The crowd was great,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about this city. They have great fans. It’s a fun little barn. I thought it was great, especially at the end there when I got introduced as a star.”

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