Net panic? Not just yet

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

Asked about Martin Gerber's performance following yesterday's scrimmage at Scotiabank Place, Senators coach Bryan Murray had a question of his own.

"What did he let in, three (goals)?" asked Murray.

"Four," he was told.

"You weren't counting ... neither am I," said Murray with a sly smile. "The goaltenders (yesterday) obviously had a tougher time with all the traffic at the net and not picking up the puck, but some guys shot the puck pretty well."

Gerber, who was anointed the new saviour after being signed to a three-year, $11.1-million contract on July 1, didn't exactly look stellar with about 5,500 looking on during Senators Fanfest.

While the former Carolina Hurricanes starter allowed four goals during the 30 minutes he spent in the net, everybody needs to remember it's September, not April.

And Gerber wasn't alone. Backup Ray Emery didn't shine, either, while youngsters Kelly Guard and Jeff Glass also have work to do.

"The goalkeeping is certainly not up to the shooters ... I guess that's like the pitchers and the hitters in baseball," cracked Senators GM John Muckler after Team Red beat Team White 6-4.

Gerber will get a few more days to get back into form because he'll make his first pre-season start Wednesday at home against Toronto. Emery will start and split the duties with Guard tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Halifax Metro Centre.

Even Gerber wasn't satisfied with his performance yesterday.

"It was nice to get a little game action, but this is the time to start getting used to playing with each other," said Gerber, who will split the duties with Glass against the Leafs. "Yes, you do (pay attention to the fact you allowed four goals), but it's a scrimmage and I felt pretty good out there. You just have to build from there."

While a lot of eyes were on the goaltending, some players did stand out. Centre Mike Fisher and his wingers, Antoine Vermette and Chris Neil, combined for five points.

Rookie Alexei Kaigorodov did a good job getting wingers Daniel Alfredsson and Peter Schaefer the puck. They also combined for five points. Already, it appears the team is starting to build some chemistry.

"We had played together in the past and, playing with these guys, we're trying to build a few things here during camp," said Vermette.

'BIGGER ROLE'

"Definitely, I want to have a bigger role with more responsibility and more ice time. I don't want to put my penalty killing role away, but I'm definitely looking forward to trying to put the puck in the net more."

Alfredsson was impressed with the way Kaigorodov moved the puck, but said he isn't going to make any evaluations until the club has played a few exhibition games.

"He's got great vision, there's no question," said Alfredsson. "Once the exhibition games start, that's when we can start evaluating everybody. But he's got good skills."

Muckler said he's been pleased with Kaigorodov.

"We like what we've seen so far. It's only the first step," said Muckler. "He can play. He's smart. He still has an adjustment to make (to the North American style). There are things we would like to see him do better, but we knew that was going to happen ... It's going to be a process for him to learn, but there's no question he's skilled."


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