Filly does road trips.
He does this one with the Ottawa Senators, at least.
The Nikita Filatov saga took another twist on Sunday when the Senators called up the 21-year-old Russian from AHL Binghamton, in what could be the perfect scenario if Filatov can do his part.
If not, they may have to call in the army, the Red Army, that is (CSKA Moscow of the KHL)
Why is Filatov’s promotion potentially perfect?
For a couple of reasons.
First, because Stephane Da Costa, the erstwhile No. 2 centre for the Senators, desperately needed to work on his game at a lower level. In taking Filatov’s spot with the B-Sens, Da Costa, a rookie out of Merrimack College, can get the minutes he needs and maybe even win a few faceoffs.
As for Filatov, his status had to be dealt with soon, and there is no time like this week’s road trip — to Winnipeg, Dallas and Washington.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray had promised Filatov he would either meet with him to discuss Filatov’s wish to return to the KHL, or would give him another shot at cracking the Senators lineup. Filatov’s latest audition took place Sunday evening, as the Senators handled the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3.
Filatov played 15 minutes and had a brilliant scoring chance in the second period on a two-on-one, but he couldn’t beat Cam Ward on a low, hard shot. He did get on the scoresheet with a late hooking penalty and was plus one, with just the one shot.
Filatov might have been running on fumes. Including Binghamton games over the weekend, he was playing his fourth game in four nights.
“It’s always exciting to be here,” Filatov said. “You get energy from the fans.”
The winger shed no further light on his future beyond this road trip, said he had not spoken to Murray prior to the game, but was clearly inspired.
“It’s still a dream, still a hope to make it (in the NHL),” Filatov said afterward. “I’d like to stay here forever and be a good player for the team.”
Asked if he thought Moscow remained on Filatov’s radar, Murray cracked back: “Is it on my radar?”
In other words, loaning Filatov to the KHL team is Ottawa’s call to make and the club first wants to see if Filatov can play here. He earned the shot after another successful stint in Binghamton – six points in two games, before being held off the sheet in his past two. In 15 AHL games he had 12 points.
“We know he’s a talented enough guy to play in the league, we know he brings some offence to this team,” Murray said. “But it’s a matter of, will he do a little bit more than that – can he help us win games?”
Like Da Costa in the AHL, Filatov will need an opportunity to produce with the big club. Head coach Paul MacLean gave him that chance on Sunday, running No. 21 out on the top line line with Jason Spezza and Colin Greening.
Somehow, both of Spezza’s linemates managed to avoid points on Spezza’s two first period goals, one on a power play, the other on a first-shift rush up ice, on passes from defencemen Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson.
“He played well,” Spezza said of Filatov. “He was moving his feet. You could tell he was excited to be here.”
MacLean thought Filatov was “a little more creative with the puck…and we’re going to look for more from him.”
Hard to say how this one will play out. With his “Filly don’t do rebounds” quote getting wide circulation, from his Columbus Blue Jackets days, Filatov is earning a reputation as a malcontent.
Is it fair? The former sixth overall draft pick has only played 51 career NHL games, including seven this season with the Senators, which means he hasn’t had huge opportunity in either NHL conference. Instead of sulking in Binghamton, by all accounts Filatov worked hard, practiced with a smile on his face and produced on the score sheet.
If he doesn’t do likewise with the Senators, the KHL question will surface again.