Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray sincerely believes the short-term pain will result in long-term gain for centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
On Thursday, Pageau was shipped back to Binghamton, where Murray hopes he’ll play anywhere from 15-20 minutes per night, regain his offensive confidence and possibly make a return to the big leagues later this season.
Following an outstanding playoff performance and standout play in rookie camp and in the pre-season, Pageau lost his edge — and ice time — during the club’s six-game road trip to begin the season. He has been in and out of the lineup for the past two weeks and when he has been in, he has played sparingly.
“He has to play,” said Murray. “He’s a young player and was very productive and important for us at the end of last year. He came in (this season) and had a chest injury that set him back a little bit, but the way our team was playing, and the change we made to bring Derek Grant up, affected him a little bit.”
Murray has talked with Binghamton coach Luke Richardson and the understanding is that Pageau will be surrounded by offensive wingers and play in all situations in the AHL — conditions that should result in scoring opportunities.
“He (shouldn’t) be a fourth-line player here,” said Murray. “This guy has the potential to be more than that. Sitting on the sidelines, killing penalties only, that isn’t enough.”
Robin Lehner has had a few signature moments against the New York Islanders during his brief NHL career, including his first win on Jan. 13, 2011, and a celebrated between-period run-in with former Islanders goaltender Kevin Poulin.
This time around, he’s facing some pressure to add a couple more significant milestones — his first win of the 2013-14 season and the 10th win of his NHL career — while trying to stop the Senators’ three-game losing streak.
“For me, it’s just go out there and try to do my best and see where it takes me and hopefully we can turn this around,” said Lehner, who hasn’t played since a 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 19. “It’s tough for all of us. We want to win and are capable of winning and we’re just not doing the right things, but we need to find it pretty fast.”
Lehner suggests that goaltending partner Craig Anderson is unfairly taking all the blame for the Senators’ struggles, but he understands that’s the nature of the position. From his view at the end of the bench, he says there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“Last year, (the media) called us pesky. We were defence first. We hit everything. We got it deep and that kind of opened things up for us. And now we’re trying to open up before we do all of that.
“We were very tough in front of both nets and now we’re not as tough in front of the nets. We’re not as tough along the boards and people are taking it to us. And for some reason, there are some breakdowns here and there.
“It’s the whole team. It comes down to forwards coming back, so that the (defence) has confidence in standing up (at the blueline). It’s a mix of everybody.”