Ray Emery was ticking off his coach again yesterday.
But this time, instead of being told to "beat it," the goalie's behaviour at practice had John Paddock hoping and expecting he'd repeat it.
"I was frustrated with him two of the last three days, and in a different way, in a good way, I'm really frustrated today with him," Paddock said of Emery after a previously scheduled day off was snatched from the players because of their dismal performance in Saturday night's 8-6 loss to the Washington Capitals. "Because you can see how frickin' good he wants to be, he can be, when he's out there trying."
Paddock told Emery to scram after the goalie showed up late for work Friday, a day after he blew up at practice and broke his stick then tossed it into the stands.
His tardiness was the tip of an iceberg that had been moving slowly since it was clear Martin Gerber had supplanted his partner as the team's No. 1 ' tender.
In short, Emery's been unhappy over losing his job and Paddock was displeased that he wasn't putting in the necessary effort at practice in an attempt to win it back.
"Sometimes I don't blame a goalie for not trying (in practice)," Paddock said. "They come down on 3-on-nothing, or 5-on-nothing ... and guys get inside the hash marks then make a pass so they're shooting the puck into the open net.
"That's really frustrating for a goalie. It doesn't help the goalie at all. I don't blame them for quitting or being upset or breaking their stick. Any goalie.
"I don't know if that was happening today, but I do know that when I looked all the time he was trying, he was making saves and he was putting an effort into it.
"It was frustrating in a good way, because I'm glad to see him do it, but it's frustrating because if you play like this all the time, we don't have any issues about the goaltender and his ability to stop the puck.
"Be one of the top 10-12 goaltenders in the league. Hopefully we're past that. I'm not going to write it in stone that we're past it for the next 45 games, but I hope we are."
Asked about his improved work habit, Emery simply said: "I want to start playing. They made it clear if I don't try harder in practice I'm not going to play. So that's it."
REMATCH WITH CAPS
His chance to get back in is unlikely to arrive tomorrow as Gerber is expected to be between the pipes in an afternoon (4 p.m.) rematch with the Caps at the Verizon Center. Despite the fact he allowed seven goals on 29 shots, Gerber was not the main culprit in defeat, said the coach.
"The goaltending wasn't strong, but the other 18 players I have more concern about than him," said Paddock.
"(Gerber) came in after the game and said, 'sorry guys.' I mumbled to him as I walked out, 'it wasn't your fault.' Well, he could have made some more saves, but we were just downright terrible. Like I said (Saturday) night, we couldn't pass the puck for love or money."