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Lehner confident his time will come with Senators

Top goaltending prospect knows 'it's a marathon, not a sprint' on road to NHL job

Wednesday, 08.15.2012 / 1:47 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Lehner confident his time will come with Senators
Goaltender Robin Lehner gave a large glimpse of his potential on Feb. 28, when he stopped all 32 shots he faced in backstopping the Senators to a 1-0 win over the Bruins in Boston (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images).

The journey isn't always intended to be short and sweet.

So it is that Robin Lehner — as anxious as he is to display his wares in the National Hockey League on a full-time basis — knows it isn't necessarily a race to the finish line. Especially when you're a 21-year-old guy with a world of time left to grow.

"It's a marathon, it's not a sprint," said the native of Goteborg, Sweden, when asked about spending the last two seasons with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League. "(The Senators) are doing what they think is best for me. They're trying to develop me as good as they want. I'm an asset to them and they want me to do as well as possible.

"I've got to trust them, too. They've got lots of hockey experience in this organization. I'm only 21 — I don't know as much. I'm just eager to play and eager to show myself."

Lehner, the organization's top goaltending prospect, certainly give his bosses an eyeful during a brief stint in Ottawa last season. In five appearances — four of them during a spell when starter Craig Anderson was sidelined by injury — he posted a 3-2-0 mark with an impressive 2.01 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. Included was a 1-0 blanking of the Bruins on Feb. 28 in Boston, when Lehner turned aside all 32 shots he faced.

"I've got to deserve the opportunity first and that's what I'm (trying to prove) now in the summer and heading to camp, to get them to want me to play here," he said. "That was just the thing for me, with the game in Boston and a few other games I played up here, to show myself and show other people that I can play at this level.

"I know I've got a long way to go and some technical things I need to work on, and I have to get more stable and be a little bit more calm in the net."

While the Senators have Anderson and Ben Bishop both currently in the fold on one-way contracts, Lehner — who's on a two-way deal — still intends to come to training camp in September with the thought of landing a job in Ottawa.

"People can look at it that way," said Lehner, a second-round pick (46th overall) by the Senators in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. "This is a business and, of course, they're going to do things money wise for the organization. That's not my job. I have one job, to stop pucks and to try to stop as many as I can. That's what it all comes down to in the end.

"You've got to believe it's realistic (to make the team). I'm trying to prepare myself as well as I can to be able to get a spot. You never know. You go for it and you see what happens. I'm looking forward to it and I'm excited."

Lehner's star has never shone brighter in the organization than in June 2011, when he backstopped the B-Sens to their first Calder Cup championship in franchise history and was named the most valuable player in the playoffs. But last season, by contrast, was a struggle, both for Lehner and his teammates, who failed to make the playoff party. However, he chooses to put a more positive light on things now.

"Now, when I look back at it ... it was a lot of good learning experiences," said Lehner. "I think I developed as a goalie and I think I've developed and matured a lot as a (person). I'm starting to really know what it's all about. Last year, it some ways, it didn't go as we wanted, but it was a really good experience for us, too.

"Sometimes, that happens. Up her in Ottawa, it felt really good when I got the chance. The main thing for me is (having) the feeling that I got to be a better goalie. And I think I can stop more pucks this season."




1 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
2 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
3 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
4 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
5 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
6 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
7 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
8 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


E. Karlsson 82 21 45 7 66
M. Stone 80 26 38 21 64
K. Turris 82 24 40 5 64
B. Ryan 78 18 36 5 54
M. Hoffman 79 27 21 16 48
M. Zibanejad 80 20 26 0 46
C. MacArthur 62 16 20 -6 36
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
D. Legwand 80 9 18 1 27
A. Chiasson 76 11 15 -5 26
C. Anderson 14 13 8 .923 2.49
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02