The Senators general manager, who is battling Stage 4 colon cancer, spoke to the media informally Wednesday morning and admitted how much he's enjoyed watching the team compete for a playoff spot.
On February 10th the Senators trailed the Boston Bruins by 14 points and any chance of making the playoffs seemed remote at best, but now with two games remaining Ottawa, with 95 points, is tied with the Bruins who hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Thanks to an impressive 21-4-4 run the Senators have put themselves right back in playoff contention.
When asked if he believed in destiny, Murray said absolutely.
"I think the way we've played we're deserving of getting in, there's no question," he said. "I'm hoping. Our projections are that that will happen, but we need some help."
Murray says the organization has benefitted greatly from this late season push, regardless of the outcome.
"I'd be disappointed (if we didn't make the playoffs)," said Murray. "After the fact when you look at what's happened and the growth of the organization, the future that appears bright…our depth now in young people is substantial. I can only foresee, unless something strange happens, that this team is going to be considerably better because of the competitive nature of our games lately."
There's no denying the value of this run, especially when you take into consideration the Senators have done it riding the success of young stars such as Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and goaltender Andrew Hammond. The emergence of these young players compliments a cast that includes captain Erik Karlsson and forwards Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan.
Murray says credit goes to coach Dave Cameron who helped turn the team around after taking over from the fired Paul MacLean on Dec. 8.
"More and more we're convinced it's a young man's game now," said Murray. "I think the guys that (Cameron) leaned on were guys with potential, good upside and they've taken that step now. Sure it's very hard to make the decision to take a veteran out of the lineup, but by doing that it was a good message to the whole group."
The Senators face the New York Rangers Thursday and wrap-up the season Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers and in all likelihood will need to win both games to make the playoffs. They also need one of the teams ahead of them to falter.
While some might say the odds are against the Senators, the team remains confident.
"From our goaltender out that confidence has kind of reverberated through all the lines and it shows, it shows in our play," said defenceman Marc Methot. "We know the importance of these two games coming up. They're must-wins so the mood in the room is pretty positive, we're feeling good about ourselves and I think that's all you can ask for going into New York."
Through this run there have been few blemishes, but a 5-1 loss to the Rangers two weeks ago stands out.
"You have to take a little bit of onus on yourself to respond after a poor effort and the fact that's it against the Rangers and having a second chance against them I look at as a great challenge," said Hammond. "I'm happy to be able to play them again."
Cameron knows there's little he can do at this point and says now it's all about the Senators doing their part.
"I've been around long enough to know there's no guarantees," said Cameron. "All you can do is set yourself up. Give yourself the best odds. The team you play has a lot to say in the outcome of the game too, but we only control how we play and that's where we're going to spend our energy and focus on."Suggest a correction