Don't expect Martin Gerber to be a miracle worker.
That's the word from coach Bryan Murray on the Senators' No. 1 goalie as they prepare to open the season tomorrow night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.
While most of yesterday's talk centred around the Senators' final cuts -- defencemen Michal Barinka, Andy Hedlund, Jamie Allison and Tomas Malec, along with forwards Serge Payer and Josh Hennessy all got the axe -- there was plenty of discussion about Gerber, too.
Murray did his best yesterday to take some of the pressure off Gerber, the former Carolina Hurricanes starter who signed with Ottawa on July 1, the first day of unrestricted free agency.
"He's not a phenomenal goaltender. He's a good goaltender," said Murray, who had Gerber for two seasons when he was GM of the Anaheim Ducks.
"Dominik Hasek, at the top of his game, is a top goaltender and he proves he's one of the top guys in the NHL. Martin Gerber has never been that, but he's proven he's a consistent goaltender that players, fans and media will appreciate as you see him more. I believe he's going to complement this team quite well."
But being good won't be good enough when it comes to the Senators' goaltending position. Already, there are questions because backup Ray Emery had a more consistent camp than Gerber.
That being said, there is no doubt Gerber will be in net tomorrow against the Leafs. Will he play the second game of the back-to-back series against Toronto on Thursday at Scotiabank Place? That depends on what happens at the ACC tomorrow night.
If Emery does start Thursday, there is an opportunity there for him to push Gerber -- who signed a three-year, $11.1-million contract in Ottawa -- and to gain the confidence of the coaching staff and get more playing time.
"We are leaning toward (Gerber) right now to start," said Murray. "Both of them will play a fair number of games. Knowing a lot about (Gerber), he will definitely earn the right to play more games than (Emery). We are open minded as a staff. The whole purpose of playing in the NHL is to win games and we're going to play the people who help us win games."
Gerber didn't disagree with Murray's description of his style.
"I'm not going to go for the fancy play," he said. "I try to be as simple as possible and as effective as possible."
If Senators GM John Muckler is worried about the way Gerber performed in camp, he isn't saying.
"I don't think you can really grade the whole team, including Gerber," said Muckler "He didn't have a good game in Montreal, there's no question about it. I thought he had played well up to that point. You have to wait before you pass judgment to play in regular season.
"Everybody has to be better than they were last year if we're going to improve. I think the skill level is here. We just have to get a bit more out of everybody."