As Filip Gustavsson bows his head within the purpose crease the enormous, silver No. 30 on the highest of his goalie masks fills the digital camera lens.
There’s just one drawback. Gustavsson wears No. 32 for the Ottawa Senators. Matt Murray is No. 30. Gustavsson’s numerical mismatch tells a narrative. He’s speculated to be with AHL Belleville, the place he wears No. 30 for the Belleville Senators.
“Gus,” as he’s identified, was about as removed from being inheritor to the Sens’ goalie throne as Prince Harry is to being a king. And but there he was on Monday, irritating the Calgary Flames to win his NHL debut 2-1 — a spectacular 35-save, .972 save proportion effort.
And the craziest a part of all? It felt like a week-old deja vu.
Because the last-place staff of the North Division, the Senators don’t lead the NHL in lots of classes however they’ve this one locked up: rookie goaltenders making emergency begins and recording their first profession wins.
It could occur elsewhere on occasion. In Ottawa, it occurred twice in a single week.
Joey Daccord did it towards the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 15, with first and second stringers Murray and Marcus Hogberg out with accidents.
Sadly, Daccord, 24, who made his NHL debut in 2018-19 and has appeared in eight profession NHL video games, suffered an ankle damage in his subsequent begin and is out for the 12 months. Daccord’s rise and fall was one other illustration of how rapidly a heartwarming second within the NHL can flip into catastrophe with one unhealthy break.
Extremely, Gustavsson stepped in the place Daccord left off and stoned the Flames. Notably, he stopped Zac Rinaldo in alone. And the lone purpose he surrendered was additionally on a breakaway to Johnny Gaudreau. Ottawa is 4-2-0 towards Calgary this season.
Gustavsson turned the primary Senators goalie to be victorious in his first NHL begin because the immortal Andrew Hammond on Feb. 18, 2015. That was, in fact, the beginning of the Hamburglar run which led to a shock Ottawa playoff berth. The Hamburglar was 20-1-2 that season with a 1.79 goals-against common and .941 save proportion, heights he by no means once more approached within the NHL. Within the smallest of pattern sizes, Gustavsson is 1-0-1 on the season with a 0.75 goals-against and .977 save proportion.
Simply 22, Gustavsson has extra upside than Hammond, and but his path has been uneven, as is the case for a lot of goaltenders. Simply final season, he was handed on the depth chart by Daccord, who took over the starter’s job in Belleville. Gustavsson did play higher after a really sluggish begin.
This season once more appeared like a Daccord-Gustavsson tandem for the B-Sens, till each Murray and Hogberg went down. Surprisingly, whereas the children in aid have been nice, each of Ottawa’s anticipated starters — Murray and Hogberg have struggled. Murray has a goals-against of three.84 and save proportion of .880; Hogberg is 4.34 and .859.
Final week, the Senators picked up Anton Forsberg on waivers from Winnipeg and he’ll seemingly get a begin this week — the Senators have a back-to-back state of affairs Wednesday and Thursday with video games towards the Flames and Leafs.
Hogberg made an look at Tuesday’s observe and will see some motion with Belleville this weekend. Hogberg hasn’t performed since getting injured in a sport towards the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 18. Murray final performed on March 10, a 7-1 loss to Edmonton.
For now, Gustavsson will get pleasure from his second within the solar. A second-round choose of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 (fifty fifth general), Gustavsson got here to Ottawa in February, 2018 as a part of a commerce that despatched centre Derick Brassard to the Penguins.
Gustavsson has performed video games within the SHL, AHL and even the ECHL as Ottawa’s goalie depth squeezed him to Brampton to get video games in. On Monday, after posing with the sport puck that Brady Tkachuk needed to wrestle from the Flames to safe, Gustavsson declared the lengthy journey well worth the effort.
“All of the exhausting practices and all of the summer season exercises, it’s value it,” Gustavsson stated. “Whenever you get the possibility to play towards the most effective gamers on this planet, it’s value it.”
Final Wednesday, when he appeared in aid of the injured Daccord, Gustavsson needed to wake his dad and mom up in the course of the night time over in Sweden to inform them he’d been in an NHL sport. This time, he was in a position to warn them upfront he was beginning on Monday versus Calgary.
The Gustavsson’s exchanged texts with their son simply earlier than he met with reporters on a post-game Zoom name.
“They stayed up and watched and had been so glad for me,” Gustavsson stated. “Simply so glad.”
The beginning, and the win, meant “every part” to him, Gustavsson stated, after an up-and-down season in 2019-20, one which ended abruptly as a result of pandemic simply as he was enjoying higher.
“Once they put me in and I delivered what they wished from me within the first place, once they traded for me … it’s an amazing feeling to offer one thing again to them,” Gustavsson stated. “And for them to offer me the possibility to play in the most effective hockey league.”
Beating the veteran Swede Jacob Markstrom on the different finish was “cool,” Gustavsson stated, calling it a little bit of a “starstruck second.”
Critically, Gustavsson was in a position to bear down after the Gaudreau purpose tied the sport with just a little greater than 5 minutes left within the third. Chris Tierney chipped within the winner at 17:24.
“I believe I had the identical mindset the entire sport, like I am simply going to get pleasure from it,” Gustavsson stated. “It does not matter what number of objectives I let in or if I cease all of them. It was only a bummer to get scored on with 5 minutes left. It’s what it’s. He is such a talented man. And I simply needed to concentrate on the subsequent shot and let the gamers do their job too.”
Till the Gaudreau purpose, Gustavsson had made 41 consecutive saves in regulation going again to the shootout loss to the Canucks final Wednesday.
Winger Connor Brown stated that Gustavsson “performed fearless,” which gave the staff confidence in entrance of him.
“He did every part on the market,” added head coach D. J. Smith. “It was nice. He appeared calm. Made the saves he needed to make. We hung him out on the breakaway there on the finish.
“For a man enjoying on this first sport, he wasn’t swimming… I assume that’s why you’re employed every single day within the minors. You by no means know whenever you’ll get your probability.”
Gustavsson and Raynaud’s illness
Gustavsson suffers from a gentle case of Raynaud’s illness, which may trigger an individual’s extremities to go numb from chilly temperatures or stress. In Gustavsson’s case, he generally loses feeling within the fingers of his blocker hand. When he made his aid look towards Vancouver final Wednesday, Gustavsson got here in “chilly” and at one level needed to go to the bench for warmth therapy on his hand. He stated he had no points on Monday versus Calgary as a result of he had an opportunity to heat up for the sport.
“I possibly want that sort of therapy about 4 occasions a 12 months when one thing abruptly occurs, such as you’re just a little bit chilly on the bench and you do not have the blood movement within the physique,” Gustavsson stated.
Watson out with hand damage
Coaches love their shot blockers, however the pastime may be unhealthy to your well being. Austin Watson, the Senators winger who has been throwing his physique in entrance of photographs all season, suffered a hand damage from a shot block late in Monday’s sport towards the Flames and was seen sporting a solid on his left hand whereas watching Tuesday’s observe.
Smith stated will probably be an enormous loss if Watson is out long run.
“That’s one of many guys (GM) Pierre (Dorion) introduced in right here who has pushed the character of the group, the work ethic, what’s anticipated to be a professional within the NHL day after day. The best way he sacrifices his physique for the staff … defensive zone begins. All of the issues he does with out complaining is precisely who you need a younger staff to study from.”
Speedy winger Alex Formenton has been recalled from Belleville and can play Wednesday.
Watson, 29, was acquired by the Senators within the low season for a fourth-round draft choose and is signed by way of the 2022-23 season. He leads all NHL forwards in shot blocks with 49 and is seventh in hits with 100, behind league chief/teammate Tkachuk with 147 hits.
Watson has been a key penalty killer for the Senators. Smith stated he would have an extra replace on the extent of Watson’s hand damage in a day or so.