Lehner starts, others still looking to impress

Goalie Robin Lehner will play the full game for the Ottawa Senators as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs here Tuesday night.

Goalie Robin Lehner will play the full game for the Ottawa Senators as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs here Tuesday night.

It’ll probably he his last before being assigned to AHL Binghamton to start the season.

While Lehner wasn’t expected to make the team out of camp — the NHL goaltending jobs were already assigned to Craig Anderson and Alex Auld — several bubble players are still trying to impress head coach Paul MacLean and general manager Bryan Murray.

Among them are centre Mika Zibanejad and defencemen David Rundblad and Jared Cowen, who will all suit up against the Leafs.

Of all three, Rundblad appears to be on the shakiest ground at the moment. While head coach Paul MacLean said it’s clear Rundblad has high-end skill and a “National Hockey League brain” with the puck, it’s another story when the young Swede is playing without it.

“In order for him to play here, he has to be able to defend, we have to be able to put him on the ice and he has to be able to defend our net, and those are the things we’re working on him with,” MacLean said. “But to his credit he’s a smart enough player and a good enough player for us to be able to teach him that stuff.”

Rundblad was asked whether or not he would be willing to play in the AHL to start the season or head back to Sweden, but he wouldn’t say much about it. The team would prefer he stay here and learn to play on a smaller ice surface.

Meanwhile, Zibanejad is doing everything he can to start the season in the NHL. He scored a nifty goal in tight against the Winnipeg Jets Monday and roofed a one-timer against the Bruins in overtime last week.

MacLean said Zibanejad is big, skates well and scores.

“He’s shown really good signs he can play in the league,” the coach said.

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