Goalies playing for keeps

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

So, who's No. 1?

The clock is ticking on goaltenders Martin Gerber and Ray Emery to decide who is going to get the bulk of the work in the Senators' net with the start of the playoffs only 25 games away.

As the Senators get ready to face the Devils tomorrow at Scotiabank Place, coach John Paddock wasn't prepared to announce who will start, but admitted he'd like to have a No. 1 goalie in place for the final 20 games.

"I said quite a while ago that (he'd like to make a decision) at the 20-game mark," Paddock said following a workout at the Bell Sensplex. "Whether that was just to please you guys at that time or not, I still think that's a legitimate time frame of somebody getting more than half the work in that last 20 games. That's approaching."

And quickly. After facing the Penguins next Saturday in Pittsburgh, the Senators will have 20 games left. From there, they have to start getting into playoff mode.

The issue the Senators have is neither Gerber nor Emery has reached up and grabbed the job since Paddock instituted his "win and you're in" policy during a road trip last month in Florida.

Emery made three straight starts after he record victories over Florida and Montreal last week, but he was out of the net after the Senators lost 5-1 to Buffalo on Tuesday.

Gerber said following Wednesday's 3-2 OT loss to the Devils in Newark, he'd like another shot at New Jersey tomorrow, but because of Paddock's policy, he's not sure that he's going to get it.

What Paddock really wants is for one of his two goalies to make the decision for him.

"That's what we have been waiting for," said Paddock.

If they don't, is Paddock going to have to step in and make a decision?

"That's my job, yes," said Paddock.

Gerber said neither goalie is comfortable with the current situation.

"This doesn't make (the job) easier, but that's the situation that we're in," said Gerber. "It's the same thing for both guys. You basically need to win to build up something. So, it's kind of a strange situation, but that's the way that it is right now.

"With two guys, it's not the perfect situation. You just have to make the best out of it. It doesn't matter how. You have to go with it."

So, what would Gerber do if he had the choice?

"I would let me play," said Gerber with a smile.

It would help if the Senators played better in front of their goalies. During Ottawa's 15-2 start to the season, the Senators were one of the NHL's top-ranked defensive teams.

Heading into last night's play, they were ranked No. 24 with a 2.91 GAA. That puts them ahead of only Washington, Atlanta, Toronto, Carolina, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay.

"We can help (the goalies) more as well and if we do, (Emery or Gerber grabbing the No. 1 job) will happen naturally," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "If we can start playing better in front of them, that situation will take care of itself. It's not about commitment (to defence) because we're not just out there trying to score goals, it's about execution."


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