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Chris Driedger Called Up Due to Lehner Injury

The Sens are deep down the goaltender depth chart for Wednesday night.

USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators are recalling goaltender Chris Driedger from the ECHL’s Evansville Icemen due to the injury to Robin Lehner, according to Dave Cameron's post-skate media availability.  He will back up Andrew Hammond in his first NHL start.

While Driedger found some success with the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL, he is not having a great season in his first pro year.  His save percentage of .888 is fourth on the Icemen, though he did post marginally better numbers in his (super limited sample) two games in Bingo.  From today's Prospect Update:

Driedger has lost his last seven starts, giving up 32 goals over that span. With that said, the ECHL Evansville Icemen have only won 12 of 50 games this season and have scored only 122 goals.

Driedger is currently playing nowhere near a NHL level, and wasn't really expected to see the NHL during the regular season for a few years yet.  He did suit up during the pre-season this year, but we've got no numbers since he did not play against Toronto and the game against the Islanders is an information black hole because it wasn't held in a NHL arena so we can't even confirm that he was actually there.

You can read up more on Chris Driedger from Ary's Silver Nuggets piece on goaltending depth from a few weeks ago.

At this time there is still no word on the severity of Lehner's injury, or any timeline for either his return or the return of Craig Anderson.  This will not be the only call up either. A forward will be recalled from Binghamton to fill in for Clarke MacArthur, but the team has yet to determine who.

Update: You can read the official press release here (et en Français).

Update 2: Michael Shockley from IceMenManiacs.com was kind enough to send some thoughts on Driedger via email:

Obviously, Driedger's numbers in the ECHL this season are not good - an 8-25-2 record in 36 appearances, to go with a 3.75 GAA and an .888 Save Percentage. The rookie did earn a pair of shutouts in November, and was a respectable 5-5-1 with a .908 SV% in his first 11 decisions. However, he's gone just 3-20-1 with an .878 SV% since.

Factoring into his struggles has been the atrocious health of the IceMen, as the team has been ravaged by injuries and currently has 9 players on the shelf. (Only one player - Ottawa defensive prospect Troy Rutkowski - has played in all 50 of Evansville's games.) And whether healthy or not, the IceMen have been putrid defensively all season, giving up over 33 shots per game and surrendering odd-man rushes with startling regularity.

If pressed into action for Ottawa, Driedger should at least be able to handle whatever workload is thrown at him. The 20-year old leads the ECHL in saves (1003) and is third in minutes played (2033), so he's no stranger to playing a lot and seeing a bunch of rubber.

If nothing else, spending some time with the Sens' coaches (especially goaltending coach Rick Wamsley) should help Driedger refine his game a bit. He often struggles with positioning and rebound control, and could benefit long-term by receiving some tutoring from the big club's staff.

Bottom Line: Driedger has not played particularly well for the IceMen this season, but Evansville has played poorly in general. The netminder is not the reason the IceMen are dead-last in the 28-team ECHL. Like Ottawa, Evansville isn't going anywhere this season. But if Driedger remains in Ottawa for any length of time this spring, it could turn out to be a very good thing down the road for both the player and the organization.