Gerber eager for new shot

Ottawa Senators goalie Martin Gerber. (Photo by Blair Gable)

Ottawa Senators goalie Martin Gerber. (Photo by Blair Gable)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- If practice makes perfect, Martin Gerber should be ready for another shot between the pipes tonight.

It's been 15 days since the Senators goaltender last started in a 6-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place. But Gerber's wait is about to end.

Senators coach Bryan Murray simply told Gerber he'll get his long-awaited chance tonight against his former Carolina Hurricanes teammates at the RBC Center (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet).

"I'm just telling him he's playing and, other than that, get ready to play," said Murray. "I'll let him have a chance to do his thing and get ready. I don't think he needs us to tell him what he has to do, he just has to be given an opportunity to go back in."

EARLY STRUGGLES

To call this season a struggle for Gerber, who signed a three-year, $11.1-million contract in July, would be an understatement. His record so far: A woeful 3-8-1, to go with a 3.45 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage.

That's why the Senators have been riding Emery for the past seven games. But after a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday ended a four-game winning streak, Murray decided to give Gerber a chance.

"Watching him practise, he looks a lot better. He looks more poised and confident," said Murray. "It's time. There's no question. There's two things that have to happen here: Ray gets a day that he can just get some treatment (on a wrist he injured Nov. 7 in Atlanta) and sit on the bench and get refocused. Martin has to get back in."

Gerber, for his part, didn't sign here to sit on the bench.

"It's always hard for an athlete when you are off your game and you are not performing the way you want," said Gerber. "You just have to get back as quick as possible"

Asked if it helps that the Senators have improved their defensive play since earlier this month, Gerber said: "I've got to worry about my game first. Go step-by-step and go in there and try to enjoy it and get some confidence."

The Sens have seen a difference in practice with Gerber since he started working with goaltending coach Ron Low for the last 10 days. Gerber is coming out of the net more and challenging the shooter.

BETTER POSITIONING

"He was back on the goal line when he was playing the way he was and things weren't happening for him. No. 2, he looks to me like he's got being square to the puck figured out now," said Murray.

Gerber knows why the switch to Emery was made in the first place. The club needed wins and Gerber needed time in practice to get his game back in order.

"He saw that (Emery) could come in, energize the team and give them some confidence," said Murray.

So, will facing his former team help Gerber tonight?

"We'll find out," he said.


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