Emery has a ticket to ride

Senators goalie Ray Emery still has a grip on the starting job in Ottawa. (Sun File/Errol McGihon)

Senators goalie Ray Emery still has a grip on the starting job in Ottawa. (Sun File/Errol McGihon)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

The Senators are ready to ride Ray Emery to the end.

And it's up to the Senators' No. 1 goalie to decide if backup goalie Martin Gerber, who scored a 5-2 win over the Islanders on Saturday, sees anymore action this season.

With the Senators returning to practice today to prepare for tomorrow's game against the Devils, coach Bryan Murray indicated he's given Emery the option of playing the final three games of the regular season.

Getting ready for a first- round playoff series against either New Jersey or Pittsburgh, Emery will face the Devils at the Meadowlands tomorrow and the Penguins here on Thursday.

"I asked Ray to think about next week and what he needs to get ready," said Murray, who gave the players yesterday off.

"I went to him. I told him he was playing (Friday) night, that Gerber was playing (Saturday) and I said, 'I want you to look at the schedule and what you need here. Let me know first of the week, if you want to play the three games, if you want to play two games and take the middle one off. Just let me know.' I assume that he wants to play them all and I'm fine with that."

But Emery isn't quite ready to make a decision. The Senators, who are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, are still battling to ensure they have home-ice advantage in the first round.

Wins over New Jersey and Pittsburgh would clinch the No. 4 spot for Ottawa.

With one of those teams guaranteed to be the Senators' first-round foe, Emery wants a glimpse of both.

"I just want to get a feel for them and get a few mental notes on what guys are up to," said Emery.

FINISH IN BOSTON

After playing the Devils and Penguins, the Senators travel to Boston for the final regular -season game Saturday against the Bruins.

"I definitely want to play against New Jersey and Pittsburgh and then the next one (against Boston), we'll see how I feel and if it means anything and go from there," said Emery. "I want to put us in a good spot. You want to be feeling well-rested when the playoffs come.

"It's also going to depend how long we're going to have been the final game and the start of the playoffs. That could be two or three days. So, we're going to have to see. You want to play just to have your feet under you as well."

The landscape is about to change for Emery. He has posted strong numbers with a 32-15-5 record and 2.48 GAA in 55 games this season, but now he has the challenge of winning the playoffs. Murray said Emery's experience from last year (beating Tampa, losing to Buffalo) will help.

"Last year, it was dramatic. There's no question," said Murray. "He's got the games under his belt, he's had the pressure experience. Goaltending is always a priority, but I don't think he's a rookie any more. I think he just goes in and plays."


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