Ray Emery will make his return to the Senators' net on the bright and brilliant stages of the Air Canada Centre and Hockey Night in Canada -- a potential Hollywood ending to a week of turmoil when he was the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
The day after the tardy 'tender was fined for failing to find the right Long Island rink on time for practice ("We're talking about practice, man,"), coach John Paddock was asked point blank if he was sticking to the "win and you're in" rule he instituted before the all-star break for his goalies.
Paddock's answer was an flat out "yes".
After last night's 4-1 loss to the Bruins, he confirmed he's sticking to his word and that Emery will start tomorrow's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Expect Emery to answer the pressure and controversy in a manner befitting the battler he is -- by coming up big time on the big stage.
NOTHING SPEZ-IAL: Paddock heaped the blame for last night's defeat directly onto the lap of Jason Spezza. The all-star centre was guilty of two early giveaways -- the first leading to a defensive zone faceoff that the Bruins immediately turned into a goal, while the second was a Spezza pass inside the Boston blue line that was intended for Nick Foligno but became a 3-on-2 break the other way when the rookie fell. With Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson out, Spezza has to raise his game. Last night it lowered ... Of all the great nights Mike Fisher has had in a Senators sweater, this wasn't one of them. It started when he cleanly lost the draw to Marc Savard on the bang-bang goal by Phil Kessel and never did get a whole lot better after that ...There are those in the Bruins organization who see 19-year old rookie Milan Lucic turning into a Cam Neely-type power forward. He looked more like Phil Esposito, flipping home some garbage after Martin Gerber failed to contain a rebound ... In the first period Chris Kelly scored a goal that was waved off, as it was ruled his stick was too high put the puck into the top corner with a backhand swat. In the second, Kelly proved he's no switch-hitter, as he fanned completely on a waist-high baseball swing at a rebound off Tim Thomas' pad.
BETWEEN PERIODS: The Big Zee was suiting up for the morning skate at Scotiabank Place with his teammates when coach Claude Julien entered the room and gave him the old hey-what-do-you-think-you're-doing? The Bruins are in a tough part of the schedule, with games against Detroit and Buffalo Saturday and Tuesday, and Zdeno Chara -- who entered yesterday tied with Chris Pronger for third highest average ice time (26:54) in the league --is going to be busy chasing the water bugs on both those teams. Julien wants him to get his rest when he can, and that means skipping the odd pre-game skate. The workaholic Chara reluctantly followed orders and stayed off the ice, but not before asking Julien to play him a game of rock, paper, scissors for the right to practise. Julien told him to forget it. Can't you see the Rayzor trying the same with Paddock -- for the right to skip the skate? ... Luke Richardson took a puck just under his bottom lip in the dying minutes of Tuesday's game --in almost the exact same spot where he was dinged by a slap shot that shattered his jaw a few years ago. This time, he only lost a tooth and was cut for 10 stitches on the outside of the mouth, a few more on the inside. Told some hockey people used the incident to preach the virtues of a visor, Richardson said: "A visor's not going to help me, unless it gives me quicker vision so I can get out of the way." Of the trip to the dentist office that awaits him, he added: "We'll fix it in summer. That's what summers are for, aren't they? To rebuild." And when it was suggested his post-playing modeling career was now in jeopardy, Richardson cracked: "I think I'm down to being a shoe model."
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM ..: Our early vote for a Juno -- Team 1200 wise guy Steve Warne for his clever rendition of Emery The Late. ... Gerber, who usually keeps his funny bone covered up from view of the media, was asked after the morning skate what he now needs to do as far as stepping up his game. His response: "Show up on time." By allowing three goals on seven shots in the opening period, he didn't manage to do that last night ... You know it's a true hockey market when the injured sniper draws a media scrum of 15 or so. Dany Heatley showed a little more progress, engaging in some bumping and battling during the practice, and later declared he has reached the "pain free" stage. With a projected 4-6 week recovery period for his separated shoulder, the earliest Heatley would return is for the Feb. 9 home game against the Habs.
PARTING SHOTS: After 33 games in the relative obscurity of Anaheim, Shane Hnidy is back in a hockey hotbed, where he is once again called Sheriff, the nickname given to him by Cheapseats when he had the backs of Senators. Speaking of the old days, I wonder if the team still has the "Hossa Hossa Hossa" song that used to be played after goals by a certain Ottawa winger and if so, will we be hearing it again any time soon? ... Dropping off cartons of Advil to the Senators for the pharmaceutical company he represents yesterday was ex-Ottawa Rough Rider defensive lineman Michel Raby. He's still the 270 lbs. he played at and he's still the ball of energy and happiness that used to lighten up a sometimes dreary locker room at Frank Clair Stadium.