Sens' goalie controversy?

Sens goaltender Ray Emery makes a save during practice on Monday. (Sun Media/Errol McGihon)

Sens goaltender Ray Emery makes a save during practice on Monday. (Sun Media/Errol McGihon)

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

If it isn't a bona fide controversy already, it soon very well could be.

Ray Emery , the only goalie to take Ottawa to the Stanley Cup finals, is finally ready to return from wrist surgery and reclaim his No. 1 job.

Martin Gerber, who in 12 months has amazingly transformed his game from shaky to steady to sometimes spectacular, has zero interest in giving up the position he's held since the season began.

Both men said all the right things yesterday. Both want to play, both are content to let the chips fall where they may, both want what's best for the team.

But if they are to become the "1" and "1A" tandem coach John Paddock suggested is possible until the weeks or days heading into the playoffs, they will be in a rare situation. And most goalies qualified to be the main man understandably grow discontent when they aren't.

For what it's worth, Paddock said he hasn't given the matter any thought, and that he won't decide on who will start Thursday's game at home against the Montreal Canadiens until tomorrow night.

"Every situation is different," Paddock said. "The two- goalie system wasn't for us last year, the two-goalie system isn't for Roberto Luongo ... you just do what's best for the team. Competition's good. We don't have Roberto Luongo here, for sure. We have two really good NHL goaltenders. Both have the abilities to be No. 1."

Gerber had the job at the start of last season despite having the inferior training camp of the two. With Emery over his shoulder, he did not play well, losing his job by mid-November.

Without Emery around this autumn, Gerber has stood tall. He leads the league in wins, with five, and entering last night was seventh in save percentage (.941) and tied for ninth in goals-against average (1.99).

'I CAN BE HAPPY'

"Of course you want to play as much as possible," Gerber said. "Being where we are right now I think it's good for everybody around here. Personally, I think I can be happy with (an even rotation). The more you play the better it is for each guy, I think. The more ice time you get, the higher the comfort level is."

Neither goalie is going to get much game time in the next couple of weeks. After a hectic start to the schedule, the Senators play only three more games in October.

In a rehab stint with Binghamton over the weekend, Emery made 34 saves during a 4-1 loss to Syracuse, then 46 saves in a 5-2 victory over Hershey.

Emery conceded that his wrist is still not 100%, but that he is good to go means he needs to face as many pucks as he can get.

"It's a frustrating thing, getting surgery done and not getting back when I thought I was going to," Emery said. "But I'm at a point now where I've tested it out, I feel pretty good. I like playing. I'm not going to lie and say I don't want to play. But you've got to earn your playing time. Gerbs is a great goalie. I'm going to try to push him to be better, and he's going to push me to be better. If you win, the team is going to want you in nets. Gerbs has been winning ... I've got to prepare myself and try to get back in there and play."


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