Senators notebook: Big win, back on bench

The hardest part of Tuesday’s 3-0 shutout for Robin Lehner was reminding himself he was in a game.

Senators notebook: Big win, back on bench
Erik Karlsson #65 and Robin Lehner #40 of the Ottawa Senators celebrate a win of the game against the Minnesota Wild on January 14, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Senators defeated the Wild 3-0. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The hardest part of Tuesday’s 3-0 shutout for Robin Lehner was reminding himself he was in a game.

His mental edge was already low coming into the game after watching Craig Anderson play six games in a row. Lehner hadn’t played since a Dec. 27 game in Boston.

Then, he was almost lulled to sleep by a first period in which the Wild had only three shots. That took out the normally energetic Minnesota crowd. It was as flat as the team.

“It was very tough after the first period, mentally, going into the second and third,” said Lehner. “I hadn’t played for six games and then I didn’t have any shots — it was tough. In the second, they were better and had some chances.

“But it was very tough to stay focused, when you basically stand around for 18 minutes. You have to remind yourself — it’s a game here. Look at the puck.”

After the shutout, Lehner might have been expected to play against the Canadiens, but coach Paul MacLean opted to go with Craig Anderson.

It would have been easy to put Lehner in after his shutout, said MacLean, but Anderson is the No. 1 goalie.

If Lehner was miffed, he wasn’t showing it. He accepted it as part of being the team’s backup.

“Since I first came over here, I haven’t really been a backup,” he said. “So this whole year is a new for me. It’s a good learning experience for me and I’m trying to do my best.”

TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE

Now that the Ottawa Senators have got themselves back into the playoff race, one theory says they should avoid watching the out-of-town scoreboard and concentrate on their own play.

That’s not something that Clarke MacArthur is about to embrace, though.

For him, the fun of being in a playoff race is doing just that: looking over your shoulder to see how the other teams are doing.

With only three Eastern Conference teams more or less out of the playoff race — the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, and Buffalo Sabres — this figures to be a full-time job right to the end of the season. MacArthur’s looking forward to it.

“There’s no point in avoiding (the standings),” he said. “I think it’s a positive thing. You get some wins, you start climbing up — that’s what makes it exciting.

“The first 30 games, you’re looking at them and you’re five points out the whole time. We can’t put a string of wins together.

“Plus, you’ve got 50 games left — anything can happen.

“Now you’re on the back nine working your way toward the playoffs. This is when it gets exciting.”

Captain Jason Spezza is no less excited about being back in the playoff race, even if he doesn’t share MacArthur’s fondness for watching the scoreboard — at least not yet.

“Toward the Olympic break, you don’t really scoreboard watch too much, or pay too much attention to the standings,” he said. “Coming out of the break, it’s kind of the home stretch for us, and you look at it a little more.

“But it’s a little too early now.

“When a couple of teams play that are close together, you look at that, but other than that, it’s a little early.”

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