Morning skate update: Subplots aplenty as Sens face Habs

At the tender age of 19, Robin Lehner made his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens.

Morning skate update: Subplots aplenty as Sens face Habs
Robin Lehner #40 of the Ottawa Senators stops a shot during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 5, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Ottawa defeated Columbus 4-1. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

At the tender age of 19, Robin Lehner made his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens.
Thursday night, he’s charged with the big task of once again stopping the Canadiens, trying to get the Ottawa Senators on a winning streak in a game which is receiving heavy duty hype following last spring’s heated playoff rivalry between the teams.
“Right now, every game is the biggest game,” said Lehner, who has temporarily taken over the Senators top goaltending job with Craig Anderson still nursing a stiff neck. “We need these points and we play these guys a lot during the course of a season. It’s a rivalry. It could be a huge confidence boost if we we win. We need to beat them to get on a roll.”
A Senators win will even their record at 6-6-4 and give them a two-game streak for only the second time this season. A Senators win in regulation will move them to within a single point of the Canadiens.
Thursday’s game could also represent the first sellout of the season at the Canadian Tire Centre, much of that due to the presence of spirited Canadiens fans in the crowd.
As Lehner joked Thursday morning, “we have to take the crowd out of it early.”
There are countless subplots at play here, including the head-to-head match-up between Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson and Canadiens counterpart, P.K. Subban, whose tense relationship with coach Michel Therrien is receiving plenty of attention in hockey mad Montreal.
There could be carry over from Eric Gryba’s crushing hit on Lars Eller in the playoffs last spring? There’s added spice due to the public war of words between Therrien and Senators coach Paul MacLean.
MacLean, however, dismissed that, saying the game is decided by the players. He did, however, talk about the spirit in and around the building.
“From my experience, if you’re getting ready to play the Anaheim Ducks, it’s a little different than playing the Montreal Canadiens,” he said. “You don’t need to work at it to get yourself ready to play. Last year had a lot of good games against Montreal. We know it’s a difficult opponent. We know they’re going to play well and hard and their goaltender (Carey Price) is very good. We expect it’s going to be difficult game and we have to be ready for that. We have to get some traction and get moving here.”
Lehner, who received his trial by fire as a teenager against Montreal three years ago, playing almost five minutes in an emergency when Brian Elliott’s skate blade broke, is trying to keep his composure leading up to the game.
“You don’t see much (as a goalie),” said Lehner. “But obviously it’s a loud building when certain teams are here.”
The Senators will make no lineup changes from Tuesday, when they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. That means defencemen Patrick Wiercioch and Joe Corvo remain out.

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