Emery set to take centre stage

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Ray Emery admitted to a little nervousness yesterday and really, who can blame him?

His play tonight and tomorrow will be monitored as closely as it has ever been.

Not only is it now on Emery's shoulders to provide the goaltending necessary for the Senators to emerge from the Olympic break as the Stanley Cup contenders they once were, but the 23-year-old rookie also must prove he can again be considered a satisfactory backup for a damaged Dominik Hasek.

That is, unless the club is quietly doubting Hasek's return and is making plans to trade for a goalie in the next week or so, anyway.

"I'm not a guy that looks at the big picture that often," said Emery, who will take over the reins as Ottawa's No. 1 goalie tonight against the Penguins. "If I start thinking about it, this could be an awesome opportunity for me. But I think it's a lot better for me and the team if I look at it one game at a time. There are a lot of things you can't control."

As for the nervousness, he saw it as a good thing.

"Better than being complacent," said Emery, who struggled in his four starts before the break. "It's a fresh start for us. You can see that in the boys ... it's an opportunity to put ourselves in a good position going into the playoffs."

Coach Bryan Murray said he intends to give Emery all the work until Hasek returns.

"Ray has waited for his opportunity," Murray said. "We're going to give it to him."

ICE CHIP: After getting clearance from his surgeon in Cleveland on Monday, RW Martin Havlat practiced with the team yesterday and made his first road trip since injuring his shoulder in November. He must still avoid contact, and isn't expected back in the lineup until late this month.


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