Mind over matter for Emery

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

Ray Emery still feels good about his chances of being Ottawa's No. 1 goalie in the playoffs.

"I know I can play when I put my mind to it," he said yesterday. "I'm pretty confident, man. I want something, I do it."

That attitude was likely considered when John Paddock elected to give Emery the start against Philadelphia tonight. It's the first time in 10 games the coach has strayed from his controversial win-and-you're-in method of selecting his goalie. As such, it's a significant statement in the tug of war between Emery and Martin Gerber, even if Paddock won't admit it.

"I wouldn't read too strongly into anything on it, at this stage," the coach said. "We play every other night through until Monday and there's back-to-back games ... one goaltender is not going to play every game here through the next five games."

After making the announcement that Emery would start on the heels of a 3-2 loss to New Jersey in which he gave up one "funny goal," Paddock conceded win-and-you're-in is out.

In rather telling fashion, to boot.

"Well yeah," he said, stating again that the policy has essentially been in place, if not in name, since the beginning of the season. "We just made it more official because they (Emery and Gerber) didn't like the alternating thing. They haven't liked anything, so ... they just need to stop the puck.

"Really, I mean when we were down in Florida and I was talking to (goalie coach) Eli (Wilson), they weren't liking the rotating thing, so we discussed it ... we just didn't do that lightly, we discussed it and (implemented it). And nobody liked that. So, now I'll just pick a goaltender that's going to play a certain night. That's the way it's going to be."

It's probably safe to assume Gerber is not at all thrilled with the change.

"He just said who's playing, so that's about it, I guess," Gerber shrugged, when asked for a reaction. "I don't know the reason. I don't know what's going on, so ... I'm going to go talk to him (Paddock) and find out why.

"We have to win (tonight). That's all that really matters right now. It's pretty tight in the standings. I can't really say much about it."

During the 10-game trial, Gerber was 2-2-1 and gave up 17 goals on 129 shots. Emery was 2-3-0 while giving up 17 goals on 161 shots.

"I'm glad to get back in there," said Emery. "I wasn't happy with the last game. I gave up the bad goal. I just want to continue to play and get the team playing well again as well."'

'MAKE UP FOR THAT'

Asked what he took from getting a start after a loss, Emery added: "It's an opportunity for me to play a couple of games in a row. Obviously the team wants to win at this point, I don't want to let the coach down or let the team down.

"I thought the team played well last game and deserved to win. I felt I should have done a better job for them. I want to make up for that, and have a solid game here."

Emery said ideally, he'd like three weeks to a month of settling into the starter's role before the playoffs. Then he backtracked, saying there is "no time frame."

Said Paddock: "You have to pick somebody. I think that should just take shape. That will just evolve. I'll choose or it'll evolve, one or the other."

The script isn't finalized, but it is close. And Emery's name is written all over it.

YES, HE CAN: Gatineau Olympiques star Claude Giroux will play his first NHL game tonight in his own backyard after all. Giroux received a call from the Flyers early in the day telling him he was being summoned to the big team. A couple of hours later, he got another one telling him that would not be the case as the Flyers did not have the required number of injuries to call up a player from the QMJHL. And a couple of hours after that, the team phoned again telling Giroux that he indeed was eligible. "It was a pretty long day," Philadelphia's first-round pick (22nd overall) in the 2006 NHL draft said. A native of Hearst who grew up in Orleans, Giroux leads the QMJHL with 88 points in 47 games. Flyers coach John Stevens said the 20-year-old will have a chance to "play with some really good players" and suggested he would also see some time on the power play. Said Giroux: "When I got the call, I couldn't believe it. It was an unbelievable feeling. I'm very excited."

BITS AND PIECES: Senators RW Chris Neil missed yesterday's practice with a sore hand he sustained while pounding Arron Asham Saturday. Neil will play tonight ... One might think Flyers rookie Steve Downie, who's day-to-day with an injury, had come down with the "Ottawa flu" if it wasn't for the fact the Senators have forgiven him time and time again for nearly decapitating Dean McAmmond in the pre-season.


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