Sens GM Bryan Murray took some time today to pass along this thoughts on the Sens after their first round victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Among the topics covered were Jason Spezza
's recovery, beating the Habs, Paul MacLean, the team's youth, Craig Anderson
and much, much more.
Have a look...
On getting that Round 1 win:
Well I feel great about it. I'm very pleased with the group. There was lots of pressure for a number of games in the latter part of the year just to get in and to see the guys play over the series the way they did and the toughness they showed is very pleasing.
On Jason Spezza's recovery:
He's skating, he has worked out fairly hard in the gym leading up to the skating. He's working out with the Black Aces now, the call-ups from Binghamton. He was involved yesterday and again today. He's making progress. Now, where he is as far as being game ready, I'm not sure. I think that over the weekend he'll continue to work hard and then it'll be up to Jason and Paul to decide if he's going to practice with the team or skate with the team or take a little longer.
On his timetable:
Well, I think he's like the other players who were out for a period of time. It takes a bit of getting on the ice with the group, getting involved with the group, working hard with them. Hopefully he can make himself available for the coach at some time to decide if its time or not. I don't pretend to know what that timetable would be.
On his hopes for Jason in Round 2:
I'd like to see Jason on the ice for sure. He's a good player. He's an important player for us. He hasn't played all year though, it's a big step to get thrown into a series when everyone has been playing for a long time here. I hope to see him at some point in round 2, but whether or not that happens, I couldn't answer.
On if he will rejoin the team soon:
I'm not coaching now but I'd say there's a chance he can get out there with the team and at least get some practice time with the group. As I said with Erik Karlsson when he came out, let's get him on the ice and have a little fun with the guys and not be skating by yourself in an isolation ward type of thing. It makes you feel important, it makes the players look at him and be optimistic there's another addition that could come at some point.
On when they would be willing to bring him back:
That's Paul MacLean's whole discussion with Jason when it has to take place is that I can't put you in if you're not feeling like you can contribute to the team. We've got a pretty good thing going here, we're not going to jeopardize that unless we are sure that he's healthy and ready.
On the recovery process:
He works out, they had some competitive stuff. He was a little bit sore today as would be expected. I think its day-to-day now. Is it getting better? Are you feeling stronger? Do you feel you can compete? Can you win puck battles? There's a lot that goes into being an NHL player in the playoffs. All I can say is we're optimistic he has made some real good strides in the last few weeks.
On where he boosts the team:
He adds to the power play and that in itself would be a reason to consider, when he comes into the lineup, where he makes the difference.
On the team's accomplishments to this point:
Not many people thought we were going to be a top-8 team to start with and then we had all the injuries and guys were out of the lineup. We brought up a number of guys into the lineup that didn't dress last night that really added to the group and did a real fine job for us filling in. I think when you win a series, particularly against Montreal, a traditional top team, a team that still has a big footprint in this market, when you do that you feel good about yourself and you should. I think the guys were very proud of being able to step up and beat the number two seed in the East. We know what we are, we know where we're going, we know we have a tough road ahead. I hope there was a real sense that they did a lot and they're now confident enough to step up the next time, whoever we play and do a good job against them.
On the importance of beating Montreal:
A Canadian team with the attention and an Original 6 team, a team that we all had great memories about, a team that had a great year, Montreal had a real good year and made good strides as an organization. I felt going in that would be a team we'd like to meet. I think, both from a hockey point of view and a business point of view and recognition point of view in this area in particular, maybe we'll get a few more Senators sweaters on people and a few more people in the community who are really believing in what we're doing. I think the players recognize that at the same time.
On Coach MacLean's job in Round 1:
I think Paul MacLean coached very well during the year and into the playoffs. He had the poise and the patience and the confidence in his players to allow them to play good hockey. I think that's what he did. I don't even think it's fair to suggest one guy was better than the other. I think the players played the game but Paul put them in a position to be successful.
On Coach MacLean's ability to put the right people in:
I think Paul has a real knack, he knows when to put a guy in or maybe take a guy out for a few minutes and then put him back in with a different combination. To this point it has worked and worked very well for him.
On Coach MacLean's work with young players:
I think that's the teacher in him. When you believe in certain guys and have them on your team, we know they're going to make mistakes, hockey is a game of mistakes. Whether we accept it all the time or not, sometimes we're too adamant about benching a guy or whatever, Paul has the ability to correct a person by talking to him on the bench and then giving another opportunity and almost every case he has done it this year they've stepped up and done a real good job for him.
On watching the playoffs as a GM vs. a coach:
It's brutal. I've said that to the coaches many times. It's much more fun being the coach. You're interacting with the players, you control your emotions and if you don't you vent at the referees the odd time. I found myself this year in the latter part of the year feeling it was very important to make the playoffs. We were kind of sliding a bit for a few games and then you get into the playoffs. Obviously you want to win, you want your guys to compete and never make a mistake and they make the odd mistake. I find it stressful but thank goodness we have a group of kids that really work hard and play smart and found a way.
On the Calder Cup winners joining the NHL veterans:
There's no question in my mind that the experience some of these young people got in Binghamton when they won the Calder Cup was a big factor in their growth and our ability to continue to compete this year after we had injuries. I think now with the veteran core that was here, a few of the guys that didn't get a chance to play down there plus that group, they've become the Ottawa Senators.
On the performance of young players to this point:
It really speaks volumes to the job our scouts have done here. They've brought in people that are quality people. The guys that we've traded for have really stepped up. Evaluation and what we bring into the organization is a real compliment to a lot of people and I think they're just going to get better. They may not get points every night but I think these guys have played well in this series, got a chance to play in this series, I think they're really going to grow with this and our team should be better as we go forward. That was the plan all along, I don't know whether we're ahead of schedule or not but we're a pretty good hockey team right now.
On the blueline:
We have a solid six, there's no question. I think seven or eight, actually. We've got size back there, we've got some mobility back there. Sergei Gonchar has been a true veteran for me. Lots of poise, moves the puck, keeps the puck out of trouble. Some guys don't get enough credit. Certainly to me the blueline core was outstanding. Craig complimented that, or vice versa, but certainly the whole group back there have been real good.
On if the rebuild has been fast-tracked:
When you start over you think that it's going to take time. Fortunately for us our leadership group with Alfie leading the way in that category has been so beneficial to a number of the younger players that it has helped them step up to a higher level. I guess fast-tracked is a good word because we made the playoffs last year and now we've won a round. As I said, that's a compliment to a lot of people. Certainly the players working as hard, being as understanding and disciplined as they have been on so many occasions, I thought the poise we showed in the playoffs in a few games that were under tough circumstances put us ahead of schedule.
On Craig Anderson:
We thought he was a good goaltender. I've said many times I saw him play in Florida and thought at that time he was a top drawer guy and then he moved on to Colorado. Maybe I wasn't quick enough at that time to try and do something to acquire him. There was some circumstance in Colorado where I thought he might be available. We grabbed at him. I thought he was a real good goaltender. He didn't get a lot of credit for that, maybe being in the market he was in, but he's an athlete. He helps the defencemen by moving the puck, setting the puck up. He has got great hands and catches the puck really well. But the biggest thing with Craig is he has poise and confidence and you just watch him practice or play, when he's going he's one of the top guys. Is he better? He's probably a little better than we anticipated but we always thought he was a pretty solid guy.
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