Sens put goalie issue to rest

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

What goaltending controversy?

While the debate rages among pundits and fans as to who is the No. 1 goalie in Ottawa, Senators coach Bryan Murray showed he's not going to get drawn into any controversy between veteran Martin Gerber and backup Ray Emery.

With the media waiting to pounce yesterday, Murray decided Gerber will make the start tonight against the Avalanche at Scotiabank Place and has already mapped out a plan for the next 10 days.

But part of the plan includes using both Gerber and Emery, which means nobody is going to own the net for the time being.

"Gerber has to play," said Murray. "It's time to get him back in there. He has looked good in practice and he hasn't played since 11 days ago, so we need to go back to him. He has to get some games and we feel like he's going to go in there, be a good goaltender for us and get the job done."

The decision shouldn't come as a shock. Sure, Emery played well in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, but he wasn't spectacular and didn't exactly steal Gerber's grip on the job.

STATS NOT IMPRESSIVE

Gerber, who signed a three-year, $11.1-million US contract in the off-season, is going to be given every opportunity to get back on track. No, his 3.77 GAA and .878 save percentage aren't impressive, but he's only played three games.

Gerber has been working with goalie coach Ron Low this week to try to get back on track.

Eyebrows were raised last week when Murray decided to allow Emery to stay in the net against Montreal after the club lost a 1-0 to the Flames at home.

How will the 11-day break affect Gerber?

"We'll find out," Gerber said.

It would help if the Avs get good scoring chances in the first period and Gerber is able to make big stops. That shouldn't be a problem since Colorado has star centre Joe Sakic, winger Milan Hejduk and highly touted rookie winger Wojtek Wolski, who had three goals in four games going into last night's match against the Leafs.

"You just want to get right back into the game right away," said Gerber, who will likely wear his new black pads and gloves that he's been breaking in for the last three days.

"It's important to get off to a good start in the first period. The pace in a game is a lot different than it is in practice. It's easier when you play game after game because it allows you to get into a rhythm. You always get a chance to improve when you play games."

Low, who added Gerber wasn't comfortable in the equipment he started the season with, said the veteran just has to focus on stopping the puck.

LOOKS GOOD IN PRACTICE

"I really think he has been kind of caught trying to do too much," said Low. "If he gets beaten through the back door because a defenceman didn't pick up his man, there's nothing he can do about it. He just has to focus on doing his job and he's been looking good in practice."

Murray said he's looking forward to getting Gerber back in the net.

"(The media) has been a lot tougher on (Gerber) than I have," said Murray. "I know that he's a guy who just has to play and we feel he's going to be a guy that contributes for us."


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