Sens eye Rayzer's edge

Ray Emery takes a break from Senators practice yesterday at Scotiabank Place. The Sens' No. 2...

Ray Emery takes a break from Senators practice yesterday at Scotiabank Place. The Sens' No. 2 goaltender makes his first start of the season tonight at home against the Calgary Flames. (Ottawa Sun/Errol McGihon)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

After yet another shot whizzed past Martin Gerber, the Senators goaltender turned and appeared ready to smash his stick across the goal post.

Then he stopped himself.

But even in practice, it's clear the Senators' top stopper is frustrated. And there are signals that he isn't alone.

So it is that backup Ray Emery will make his first start of the young season tonight against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., A-Channel, Team 1200).

While coach Bryan Murray tried to distance himself from a goaltending controversy, this move doesn't come as a surprise: The Senators are mired in a two-game losing streak and Gerber is struggling.

"Should (Emery) ever play?," Murray said when asked by the Sun if he knew about the debate this decision could set off.

ONE IN FOUR

"There's no debate. What's this, our fourth game? Playing one in four games (for Emery) is not a bad thing," added Murray. "(Emery) should get a chance or we send him down and bring up a guy from the minors who is not going to play. It is one in four right now, and then we'll make the decision after this game whether he plays right away. You can do the debating."

Where does Gerber have to improve?

"Winning. We just have to win games," said Murray. "Goaltenders are part of that, but a lot of players are part of that. Beyond that, I think he's a little frustrated with himself in a couple of situations. But overall, we just have to get people who are going to help us win."

Emery always prepares to start, but wasn't sure he'd get the chance. But he could be back between the pipes Saturday against in Montreal if he performs well tonight.

"I want to play as much as I can," said Emery. "If I play well, I will give myself an opportunity to do that. I'm just focused on this game. I want to play as well as I can.

"I didn't know when I would get a chance to play, especially with the schedule at the start of the year with the games spread out. I'm just glad I'm getting this chance after a couple of weeks."

Gerber, who said Murray told him following practice Tuesday that Emery would start against the Flames, hasn't been happy with way he's performed so far. The numbers agree: The veteran owns a fat 3.77 goals-against average through three games to go with an .878 save percentage.

"Both guys are going to play," said Gerber. "You want to play as much as possible. We don't have too many games and there's long stretches with practice. It was obvious (Emery) was going to get one of these games.

"When you are 1-2, you can never be happy with that. You obviously want to start the season better than that. When you are playing, it's easier to get into a groove. It's not goalie friendly. When you play two games a week, it's tough to get into that rhythm."

Gerber is being paid $3.7 million to be the No. 1 goalie and Murray maintained he's not in a battle for his job.

"I know we've pointed the finger there a lot," said Murray. "But (Gerber's) been fine. He hasn't been a star, but we didn't suggest he was going to be. He won the game in Toronto, I thought. We have two good goaltenders. I don't think in Buffalo that (Ryan) Miller is fighting for his job with (Martin) Biron playing outstanding against us (Saturday).

"It's the same thing here."


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