As we’re now about halfway through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there’s been plenty of newsworthy happenings from a hockey standpoint, but very few from the Ottawa Senators. Given their track record, perhaps this is a good thing, but those of us who live and die with this group of puck-slappers are being left to contend with the reality of not seeing them take the ice likely until 2021.
Fortunately, there was some good news in SensLand this week, some news that was just interesting, and of course, plenty of topics from around the league. Here are my Five Thoughts for Friday, September 4th, 2020.
Murray Up and Wait
Matt Murray is a name that’s painfully familiar to fans of the Ottawa Senators. The 2017 Eastern Conference Final series pivoted upon the now 26 year-old’s entrance, and turned the tide in favour of the Pens en route to their second consecutive Stanley Cup win.
Times have changed, though, and like his counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury was just three years ago, Murray is now on the outs with Pittsburgh in favour of a younger replacement. This means that the upcoming RFA appears to be on the market, and deep in the mix are the Ottawa Senators.
Frank Seravalli: “The Pittsburgh Penguins are believed to have one standing offer on the table for Matt Murray. The Maple Leafs, Oilers, Flames, Senators, Sabres and Avalanche are among the potential suitors for Murray’s services – a list that may soon grow.” #LetsGoPens— NHL News (@puck_report2) September 3, 2020
While rumours seem to indicate that the price to acquire Murray’s services would be in the range of a second-round pick and a prospect, it’s obviously unclear just how much teams would be willing to pony up. 26 year-old netminders with two Stanley Cups and RFA status are few and far between, but Murray’s regression this year (20-11-5, 2.87GAA, 0.899SV%) is definite cause for concern.
That said, it’s an avenue that the Senators should at least explore. They have a wealth of goaltending prospects, but a relatively young, experienced, proven option could be just what the doctor ordered on a shorter-term deal. Guarantees are always preferable to aspirations, and for the aforementioned asking price, it seems to be a reasonable assumption that the Thunder Bay, Ontario native could be moving to the nation’s capital.
Leaving His Mark
The overwhelming sentiment among Sens fans appears to be a collective desire to see Mark Borowiecki re-signed. Putting aside his tangible improvement this past season, Borocop has left an indelible mark on the fanbase, and the community, thanks to his untiring commitment to doing the right thing.
A commitment that has remained firm as ever, during these times of socio-political strife.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Justin Morissette right now, you really should be. A Producer, and Host at Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver, Justin courageously confronted a homophobic street preacher on the evening of August 22nd. In the melee that followed, the hateful bigot savagely broke Justin’s tibia and fibula, and dislocated his knee.
Thankfully, the scumbag was arrested, and Justin is recovering after having surgery yesterday. He’s had countless people reach out to voice their support, and among them was Ottawa’s own Mark Borowiecki.
In talking with Justin, he was equally appreciative.
There is at least one good senator in Ottawa. https://t.co/8VyixfmJUi— Justin Morissette (@JustinMoris) August 31, 2020
This is par for the course for Boro, and just adds to a laundry list of reasons why the Senators should re-sign him. It’s not often that you come across guys with this combination of leadership ability, community commitment, and dedication to growing as a player.
Justin, on behalf of all of us here at Silver Seven, I’d like to thank you for your bravery in standing for equality, and wish you a speedy recovery. Get well soon, and I hope you’re back in studio soon.
Abram-Off to Finland
With an indeterminate amount of time set to pass before the 2020-2021 NHL season gets underway, it is crucial for Ottawa’s crop of young guns to get adequate playing time elsewhere. Most of which appears that it will be in Europe, and some of the kids are taking advantage of it already.
The #Sens have loaned forward Vitaly Abramov to @MikkelinJukurit of the Finnish Liiga. Per the agreement, Abramov will be returned to the #Sens ahead of Ottawa’s 2020-21 NHL training camp.— Sens Communications (@Media_Sens) September 2, 2020
Vitaly Abramov, who posted 18 goals and 31 assists in 51 games with Belleville, and a goal in two games with Ottawa, is off to the Finnish Liiga until such time as Senators training camp begins. His temporary club, Mikkelin Jukurit, is looking for a bounce-back campaign, after a 19-33-7 season.
This is a great move for Abramov. He’ll get the chance to play against men in what’s a great league, and will be fresh and ready to roll for another season in Belleville/Ottawa.
The kids will be more than alright.
Match(es) Made in Seven
We didn’t see a single Game 7 through the entirety of Round 1, and now with Round 2 drawing to a close, we’re going to get three.
The Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers, and Vancouver Canucks all came back from 3-1 series deficits, to force Game 7’s against the Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, and Vegas Golden Knights, respectively. Frankly, all three series’ made it seem like things were drawing to a swift conclusion, but this newfound competitiveness has made things super interesting.
Both the Avs and Stars, and the Canucks and Golden Knights will square off on Friday at 4pmEST and 7pmESTm respectively, while the Isles and Flyers will settle their score on Saturday night. This is going to be a great weekend of hockey, and it’s so good for the game.
Fleury of Blows
After a 4-0 loss in Game 6, the Vegas Golden Knights face another goaltending controversy.
In Game 7 against Vancouver - a back to back no less - they’ll have to make the decision between riding with Robin Lehner, or going back to Marc-Andre Fleury. There is guaranteed to be a vocal contingent of people who think Flower should get the crease, but I tend to disagree.
Fleury has been solid throughout these playoffs, but Lehner has been lights-out. Of the three goals he gave up, Lehner was hopelessly screened for two of them, and the first one was a difficult situation where he lost sight of the puck. Couple this with the fact that he only faced 23 shots in Game 6, and I think he’s the goalie to roll with for Game 7.
Of course, though, I know nothing, and I just totally jinxed it.