‘I like the match-up’: Sens GM Murray

Old habits die hard.

Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray’s days as an NHL coach may well be over, but he says he still finds himself jotting down possible line combinations from time to time, looking for new ways to generate success.

Bryan Murray thinks his team matches up well against the Montreal Canadiens. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/Ottawa Citizen.

Old habits die hard.
Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray’s days as an NHL coach may well be over, but he says he still finds himself jotting down possible line combinations from time to time, looking for new ways to generate success.
The 2013 season was an exercise in finding a way — any way — to plug holes resulting from injuries.
“I’m really pleased, we went through a lot of adversity,” Murray said in a conference call Monday as the Senators began preparations for their first-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens.
“(The injuries) snowballed. There were a few nights going home … you wondered how you were going to survive it.”
Now that the Senators have done just that and the ailing bodies have come back one by one — from a group that once included Craig Anderson, Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen and Milan Michalek among others, only Jason Spezza remains out — Murray is full of optimism about what his team can accomplish in the playoffs.
Of all the possible teams the Senators could have faced, depending on what happened in the final few weeks of the regular season, a series against the Canadiens might just be the best one the organization could have asked for.
If the Senators had lost in regulation to the Boston Bruins on Sunday, they would have been staring at the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins as a first-round opponent.
“I like the match-up,” Murray said. “For the last little while, we’ve been trying to get out of eighth (seed in the Eastern Conference) and it just so happens that it’s Montreal.”
The Senators have changed considerably since the last time they played the Canadiens on March 13. Karlsson, Cowen and Michalek are all back from surgeries. The Canadiens, meanwhile, have lost defenceman Alexei Emelin due to his knee surgery.
“Our back end is bigger, we have the potential to be a little more physical and we do a better job of defending the front of the net than we did before,” Murray said.
All that said, Murray is by no means overconfident. He is well aware that the Senators are a low-scoring team — they have scored the fewest goals among all 16 teams in the playoffs — and he acknowledges frustration at times during the regular season because the team didn’t fight harder in the tough areas around the net.
He suggests the goaltending match-up between the Senators’ Craig Anderson and Carey Price of the Canadiens is “comparable.” Anderson sported a league-leading 1.69 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. Price, who struggled down the stretch toward the playoffs, owns a 2.59 average and .905 save percentage.
He also says one of the key games within the game will be the success of special teams. The Canadiens’ power play ranked fifth in the NHL during the regular season (20.7 per cent), while the Senators’ penalty killing was first, preventing goals 88.0 per cent of the time they were shorthanded.
“The series is probably going to have some length to it and it could go six or seven games,” Murray said. “It’s not going to be an easy series.”
Murray, however, took great offence to one report that suggested the Senators’ depth was a weakness and that the Canadiens had an edge in that department.
After all, the Senators spent the entire season proving they did have the depth to stay competitive, despite the long injury list they were forced to deal with.
kwarren@ottawacitizen.com
Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren

Tags: , , , ,

What do you think? Leave a comment