Can't curb Gerbs

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

He has been the best part of the Senators' game lately, which, depending on how you look at it, is either faint praise or an encouraging sign.

Goaltender Martin Gerber will start his sixth straight game tonight when the listing Senators host the Boston Bruins. If nothing else, since taking over from John Paddock, Senators coach/GM Bryan Murray has moved the goaltending controversy to the back burner.

Gerber's play during the club's four-game western road swing helped turn down the temperature and it is now clear -- though nobody has come out and said as much -- that Gerber is Murray's guy.

"There's no controversy. He's playing (tonight)," said Murray. "He gave us a chance in every game. He was really good, solid, real patient in the net (and) held position on a number of great scoring chances by the opposition. I thought it was really the way Martin Gerber is capable of playing," said Murray.

Murray said he thinks choosing Gerber over Ray Emery and giving the job to one guy -- after Paddock's "win and you're in" -- has allowed Gerber to relax.

"I've watched over a period of time here, it's almost like there's a relief in (Gerber's) game now. He knows he's getting a chance and he's stepped back up to the plate and done a real good job," said Murray.

"I would be wrong if I didn't try and run with him for the time being. I'm not saying that Ray won't get some games here, he won't get a chance to kick the pucks out or whatever it may be. But the way our team is structured right now, and the way we've been playing, when there's a guy we can kind of grab hold of and hopefully hang on and let him lead us a little bit, I think Martin has done that."

Gerber didn't like the day-to-day environment of the "win and you're in."

'IT WAS CONFUSING'

"It was tiring at times this season, for sure. There were a lot of things going on. For a while there, it was confusing. I always said, you go with a guy for a while and at least give him a chance to get on a roll," said Gerber. "The comfort level is definitely better than what it was the last two months. You can focus more on working hard and doing your best."

The Senators need a lot more than an improved Martin Gerber to get to the level of clubs like the New Jersey Devils or Montreal Canadiens.

Ottawa went 1-2-1 on the road trip (including being shut out by the L.A. Kings, the NHL's doormats) and salvaged what would have been a disaster with a 4-2 win over the Coyotes in Phoenix.

The Senators' level of play, particularly defensively, will have to ramp up -- and soon -- with games against the Bruins tonight and in Montreal Thursday.

Of their remaining 12 games, the Senators have only one left against a Western Conference opponent (St. Louis a week from Thursday). Eight are against teams with which the Senators are jockeying for position (three against Boston; three against Montreal; two against Buffalo), so a repeat of their success rate lately (4-6-2 in their last 12) in their remaining 12 makes missing the playoffs no longer a remote possibility.


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