Matt Murray you have run out of race track.
Matt Murray you have run out of race track.
When the Ottawa Senators gather on the weekend to head their separate ways for the summer, there will be more questions than answers surrounding the future of the veteran goaltender in the organization.
Coach DJ Smith confirmed Tuesday that 27-year-old Murray, who suffered a head/neck injury March 4 against the Arizona Coyotes, won’t suit up against the Florida Panthers on Thursday or Philadelphia Flyers on Friday to end the season.
That means Murray will have missed the final 30 games of the year and with two years left on his contract you have to wonder what the future holds for him or if he’ll even be at the club’s training camp in September.
“We thought maybe he could get in at the end and it’s just not going to happen,” Smith said before facing the New Jersey Devils. “It’s unfortunate. You want to have a healthy team and to have all the options available to you as a coach.
“It’s been unfortunate with all the injuries. Let’s just get them all out now and be heathy when the year starts next year.”
Murray has struggled when he has played and the injuries have made him difficult to rely on. He will finish with a 5-12-2 record in 20 appearances with a .906 save percentage and a 3.05 goals-against average.
I have spent part of the season with the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville.
“The big thing for Murray was him getting back up, getting his confidence back and getting going,” Smith said. “It gets derailed with another injury. The key was to get him building confidence towards next year and unfortunately he’s not going to be able to play.
“Training in the summer and exhibition games aren’t the same.”
OFF THE GLASS
Smith didn’t love the way the Senators played defensively in a 6-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, but he was glad the fans enjoyed it. He told a funny story about running into a happy fan at an ice cream shop in Carp the day after the win. “I didn’t think we played great, but we played good enough to win and we scored six goals,” Smith said. “We just didn’t play enough defense from a coach’s point of view. I was at the creamery in Carp and a guy came up to me, gave me the knuckles and said, ‘What a game!’ Fans love to see 10 goals and fights. It’s great to hear from the fans, but as a coach you know that’s not lasting if you’re going to give up that many chances.” … Senators president of business operations Anthony LeBlanc and Mark Goudie, president of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, are waiting for a word from the IIHF and Hockey Canada to learn if the city will host the 2023 world junior championship. The city is believed to be among the three finalists and there’s talk of a final decision next week. With the junior tourney set to get underway in December, there’s no time to waste to put ticket packages on sale. It’s believed the Halifax/Moncton bid is the leading competitor because of the rich history of junior hockey in both places. Ottawa’s bid is the only one of the five that would be held in one city and you have to think there’d be zero issue with selling ticket packages.
THIS ‘N’ THAT
Smith made one change Tuesday. Veteran D Nikita Zaitsev, who was out with a non-COVID related illness against the Habs, suited up with New Jersey in town. That meant D Michael Del Zotto was a healthy scratch. … Lindy ruff had a good chuckle when he was asked by TSN’s claire hanna before the game if the Devils’ coach was aware Andrew (The Hamburglar) Hammond gets free MacDonald’s in Ottawa. “I wasn’t aware, but if he does, I’m going with him,” Ruff said with a smile. Hammond was dressed as the backup to MacKenzie Blackwood for this one. …Winger Connor Brown missed his second straight game Tuesday and it sounds doubtful that he’ll suit up for Team Canada at next month’s IIHF world championship in Helsinki. He had been invited and had accepted, but it doesn’t appear he’ll be healthy enough to play. You have to wonder if that means LW alex formenton may have a chance to suit up for Canada. He’s on the radar screen.
THE LAST WORDS
Captain Brady Tkachuk was invited to suit up for Team USA in Finland, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll attend.
He said he wanted to speak with general manager Pierre Dorion at his exit meeting before making a final determination. But Smith noted Tuesday that Tkachuk has been nursing a hand injury and he noted he did have some injuries that needed to be discussed.
The injury is part of the reason Tkachuk hasn’t dropped the gloves as much this year, but it’s also because players around the league have come to the realization that he’s a formidable opponent.
“Earlier (in the season), he put a couple guys away and people realized it wasn’t a free fight,” Smith said. “Then he hurt his hand from him and he was not able to fight. I think you’ve seen more guys pawing on him knowing he can’t fight.
“His last fight he fought with a glove on. I don’t think when the season starts next year you’ll see guys pushing and shoving him around when you know how tough he is. But we’re not looking to him to do a whole lot of fighting.”