Gerber no longer masks feelings

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

The shiny new mask painted in Senators colours that arrived a month ago for Martin Gerber still sits in his locker stall, untouched and virtually unused.

And the Senators goaltender has no plans to wear it.

"I'm just comfortable right now," Gerber told the Sun yesterday. "It's tough to change. I haven't even thought about it. I might switch later on, but there's no hurry."

Instead, Gerber is going to stick with the trusty black mask he wore during training camp while he waited for the painted version to arrive from an artist in Sweden.

Gerber's not superstitious by nature, but when a goalie has 10 wins in 11 starts, he's not likely to change much.

Life is just fine for Gerber. His request that he be dealt at the end of last season is a distant memory as Gerber has taken advantage of Ray Emery's slow recovery from off-season surgery to emerge as the club's No. 1 goaltender.

Last year at this time, it wouldn't have been Gerber getting the call in a big game against the rival Canadiens, but when the puck is dropped at 3 p.m. today at Scotiabank Place, he'll be the man between the pipes.

"These are the fun games ... games against teams like Toronto and Montreal. These are the games that you play for because you want to be in there," said Gerber. "These are the games you want to be part of and it's been great so far to be helping the team win."

WINS LEADER

Gerber, the top-ranked goalie in the NHL with 10 victories, a 1.80 GAA and a .941 save percentage, has seen his life as a Senator make an about face.

Ottawa fans are finally getting to see the netminder that everybody expected when he signed a three-year, $11.1-million US contract in July, 2006.

What's the difference?

"Confidence and being comfortable," said Gerber. "It was frustrating at times last year, but I had to find a way out of it. It took some time and that's unfortunate, but I was pretty happy that when I came back this year ... I was able to get a fresh start. I just wanted to start from scratch.

"Being comfortable is a big part for any athlete. I had a really good summer. I didn't overdo it. I could focus on getting back to 100% the whole time. For me, that was a big factor. I got myself into good shape and I had nothing bothering me."

Gerber's teammates have noticed the difference.

"There's confidence in his body language, the way he's playing and the way he's challenging shooters," said Senators defenceman Wade Redden. "He came in last year and everybody talked about him being the guy. Instead of just doing what he does, he probably wanted to be more than that. That can be tough. He just looks like he's relaxed, playing the game and having fun."

Gerber doesn't make any apologies, but understands the difficulty Emery is facing trying to get his job back. Their roles are reversed.

"It's a different situation with him having to go through surgery. It throws you back, that would happen to anybody," said Gerber. "You miss a month in the summer with only two months to get ready, it's tough to do. It's tough for him to catch up and get where he was last year."


Videos

Photos