“I just think we have to get someone to take the net and start to win us some games. We’re a young team that needs someone to steal one for us.”
That was DJ Smith following their 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. A warning shot to all 3 goaltenders currently with the team on their western road trip.
The mentality heading into this season was that the rebuild was over. That this was a team ready to compete for a playoff spot. “We had a plan when we started the rebuild. I feel like we’re in the next stage now. It’s time to start winning,” said Sens GM Pierre Dorion on TSN 1200 back in September.
Fast forward to today, November 26th, and Ottawa’s in the same spot they were last season. 17 games in (4-12-1), and not where the team expected to be sitting. There’s been injuries, a COVID outbreak, and poor goaltending along the way.
#Sens goaltending stats this season:
Filip Gustavsson – 8GP 3W-4L-1OTL GAA 3.41 Save % .905
Matt Murray – 6GP 0W-5L GAA 3.27 Save % .890
Anton Forsberg – 5GP 1W-3L GAA 4.56 Save %.884 pic.twitter.com/gZbZzVXjBG
— Steve Bunda (@SteveBunda91) November 26, 2021
The numbers aren’t great; DJ Smith was justified in his comments. Goaltending isn’t the only reason for the Sens early-season struggles, but it has played a big factor. After hearing Smith call out Murray, Gustavsson, and Forsberg, we’re stuck debating which one should be their starting goaltender.
Ottawa’s in Anaheim today for a meeting with the Ducks. DJ has yet to make his decision, but I would go back to Matt Murray. I know it’s not a popular opinion, but between his performance against San Jose and DJ’s post-game comments, I feel he deserves the chance to prove himself. There’s a solid argument he’s had more than enough chances and that’s completely understandable, but he’s the veteran of the group.
This is where Matt Murray needs to step up and prove he’s worth the 4-year, $25 million contract he signed. Show he can be a leader on a young Sens team and that he heard Smith’s comments loud and clear. I look at DJ’s warning shot as him looking to light a fire under Murray. If this team is going to turn things around or get to that next stage of the rebuild, Matt Murray will have to step it up. That starts today.
Ottawa wraps up their road trip tomorrow against the Kings. After these next two days, we’ll see if DJ Smith’s comments worked and if someone has “Taken the net” as he asked.
Who would you start?
By Steve Bunda