On Friday, DJ Smith announced that Matt Murray would not be playing in Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. Although Murray had struggled in Thursday’s tilt before leaving the game with an injury, he was coming off a four game stretch in which he posted a .947 SV% in all situations. Sens fans, and Pierre Dorion, had stopped gripping ther armchairs quite so tightly every time the opposition got a shot on net.
Meanwhile, Marcus Högberg has struggled mightily to start this year. While simple save percentage, especially in small samples, can be misleading, I think in this case it’s fair to say that Högberg’s .836 SV% is not an unfair indication of his level of play. He’s been shaky to the point that even I, someone who will never pretend to know anything about goalie positioning, could tell he was off of his angle on several occasions. All of this to say that Ottawa would rather not have been forced to run their back-up out there again if they didn’t have to, but such is life in the NHL. Filip Gustavsson will serve as the back-up for this afternoon’s affair.
There was some debate among the talking heads over the last couple of days about the possibility of Joey Daccord drawing in if Murray’s injury persists, but Daccord hadn’t played a game of professional hockey in nearly a year before Belleville’s game last night against Laval. That game didn’t go well for Daccord either, as he allowed five goals on 36 shots. Gustavsson, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have been a consideration to start. In a perfect world, Högberg will turn in a stellar performance, Murray’s injury will prove to be minor, and all of the troubles of these last few days will be behind us.
But we don’t live in a perfect world, and all of a sudden, the Sens are finding themselves in a difficult situation when it comes to their goaltending. As many others have said, including Smith himself, Ottawa is a fragile team right now. I don’t ascribe as much value to these types of intangible things as others do, but at some point you need your goalies to make enough saves to keep you in the games. More than that, you need them to stop the easy ones. Högberg, and for a while Murray before him, hasn’t even been stopping the easy ones. He’s also probably the goalie that’s most ready to play NHL games besides Murray. As I said, this is a tricky situation for everyone involved.
So that brings us to this week’s question: what should the Sens do in net, especially if Murray is out for a few more games? What if Högberg struggles again? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments.