Don't worry, be Habby

Senators goalie Ray Emery will make his return to the lineup on Thursday. (Sun File/Errol McGihon)

Senators goalie Ray Emery will make his return to the lineup on Thursday. (Sun File/Errol McGihon)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

Ray Emery is ready to lend a hand.

After sharpening his skills on a two-game conditioning stint in Binghamton, the goaltender declared he'll be ready to dress against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday at Scotiabank Place.

The 25-year-old, fully recovered from off-season surgery to repair ligament damage in his wrist, will rejoin the Senators today for practice.

"I will make myself available to the team whenever they want to throw me between the pipes," Emery said following a 46-save performance in a 5-2 victory over Hershey on Saturday at the Broome County Memorial Arena.

But with the Senators, and Martin Gerber in particular, on a roll with a 6-1 record following a 3-1 victory Saturday against the New York Rangers, it might be difficult for Emery to get back into the net.

"You feel good for (Gerber)," said winger Dany Heatley. "He was put in such a tough spot last year, but the way he practises every day, it's good to see him get rewarded."

It's safe to say a goaltending controversy is nearing.

Emery, who was signed to a three-year, $9.5-million US contract in July after leading the Senators to the Stanley Cup final a month earlier, was the undisputed No. 1 going into training camp, but his injury slowed him and also allowed Gerber to take charge with five victories in his six starts this season.

With Emery back, coach John Paddock made one easy goaltending decision -- rookie Brian Elliott was returned to the Baby Sens yesterday -- but a much tougher one is around the corner.

No matter which way Paddock leans, there won't be much game action available as the club only has three matches in the next 18 days.

It would make sense to start Emery on Saturday when the Florida Panthers come to town. They've hardly been a tough opponent for Ottawa over the years and may make for a good opponent to get rid of some of the cobwebs.

Emery said he now has confidence in the wrist, which is what he's been lacking.

"Like I said, timing," said Emery. "Just some simple plays -- and testing my hand out -- covering pucks and squeezing them tight were things I was having problems with, and a little bit weary of doing.

"So I got a chance to get that under my belt (in Binghamton) and alleviate some of the worries I had about my using my hand."

Emery is happy the club was been winning, even if it's without him in the lineup.

"We've got a good team," he said. "That is no secret. I would have been surprised if they hadn't reeled off a bunch of wins."


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