Sens need somebody to give Emery a push

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

On his list of priorities would be a couple of gritty, veteran forwards. Another skilled defenceman, too.

But first and foremost, Bryan Murray says the Senators have to get themselves an established, professional puck stopper.

Somebody to either challenge or supplant Ray Emery as the No. 1 guy.

"All I know is that you can't win in the NHL at playoff time if you don't have a goaltender," the Senators coach said during his year-end press conference at Scotiabank Place yesterday. "I say that, and they've got young (Cam) Ward in Carolina and they've gone on. But basically, you have to have that looked after."

The Hurricanes also have Martin Gerber waiting in the wings. He only won 38 games for them this season.

"Maybe we come to camp and Ray's the clear cut No. 1, and we know as a team that he's the guy," continued Murray. "That might be it, and then we just go forward with him being the guy. Maybe this experience will be the greatest thing that happened for him.

"But we still need the next guy, ready to play some games for us. I didn't feel we were in that spot down the stretch or in the playoffs."

Emery finished the playoffs with a 5-5 record, a 2.88 GAA and a .900 save percentage. Other than a won-loss mark that was 12 games above .500, he had similar numbers in the regular season (2.82 GAA, .902 save percentage). Not great, but decent.

This summer he plans to go to Calgary and again train with Eli Watson, the goalie coach of the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers, then compete for the job he's had since mid-February.

Is he ready to be a full-time No. 1?

"I think so. I'm not positive, because I've never done it before," he said. "That's my goal for next year, definitely.

"I know what I'm good at. I know what I need to improve on. I'm going to work real hard in the summer and next year, I'll come in with more experience and prepared to play better, and be a better goaltender for the team.

"Nothing's written in stone. I want to play here next year. I want to prove myself and earn the No. 1 job, but I don't expect to be given that. I don't know what kind of situation I'll be in."

Emery didn't hesitate when asked what he learned this season.

"You only get so many opportunities," he said. "I might not get a chance to play for a team this good in the second round of the playoffs again.

"You definitely have to seize the opportunity when you get it."

He'll get another one in September. His chances of grabbing the No. 1 job will depend partly on how hard he trains and partly on how well he performs at training camp, but also largely on who the Senators get when shopping for another goalie.

Either way, they'll have two guys they can depend on to do the job should they reach the playoffs next spring.

SMARTIN' MARTIN: Marty Havlat had hoped to make up for a lost season. But after missing 58 games with a shoulder injury, his plans for a playoff run were stopped short again. "It's going to be another long summer, unfortunately," said Havlat. "Personally, I had the whole year off. I was hoping we were going to play a little longer. I was getting ready for the new season and I wanted to have a long season, in the playoffs. Unfortunately it was only 10 games." With seven goals in Ottawa's first six playoff games and none in the last four, Havlat was asked what happened. "You saw the first round; you were watching the second round, too. So you could see the difference," he would only say. "Buffalo was playing great hockey and we were making too many mistakes. That's what cost us the series, especially the first two games." After signing one-year contracts the past three years, Havlat could very well be headed to arbitration. He said he hasn't given his contract status much thought, though. "I love this city, I love the people I've met here," he said. "I've had a lot of fun for six years here."

THIS AND THAT: After Saturday's final game, Zdeno Chara told the Sun his injured hand was "100%" in the playoffs. Yesterday, when asked the same question by others a couple of different ways, he responded with no comments. It's almost as though somebody told him to not be so quick to lose the excuse, in case a sub-par post-season performance is brought up in contract talks ... Is playing closer to the family home in Lloydminster, Sask., a priority for fellow unrestricted free agent Wade Redden? "You can get anywhere in North America pretty quick now," he said yesterday. "I don't think being close to home is a big importance."

THE ELIMINATORS

You can add Jason Pominville's name to the list. The Sabres forward became the ninth player to end the Senators' season, scoring the winning goal in an elimination game in the playoffs. He joins:

- Derek Plante, Buffalo, 1997.

- Joe Juneau, Washington, 1998.

- Alexei Zhitnik, Buffalo, 1999.

- Sergei Berezin, Toronto, 2000.

- Yanic Perreault, Toronto, 2001.

- Alexander Mogilny, Toronto, 2002.

- Jeff Friesen, New Jersey, 2003.

- Joe Nieuwendyk, Toronto, 2004.


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