Gerber still No. 1 for Sens

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

It'd be something else if he were getting thrown to the Lions -- alas, the visitors from Detroit this weekend won't be the slippery fingered, hapless NFLers, but rather members of the best hockey team in the world.

So relatively fresh off what surely must be one of the ugliest beatings he has ever absorbed, Martin Gerber next gets to stare straight down the barrel of Red Wing snipers Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa and Pavel Datsyuk. The Christians would cringe.

Yesterday, however, Gerber wore a brave face and made it clear he can't wait to try and redeem himself.

"Definitely," the Senators goalie said when asked if he was looking forward to Saturday's season opener at Scotiabank -- and moments after coach Craig Hartsburg confirmed he was drawing the short straw, er, starting assignment. "It'll be a good test of where we stand, and there will probably be a lot of attention on that game. I'm definitely looking forward to playing the Stanley Cup champions."

There was a lot of attention on last Saturday's game in Sweden against the Cup finalist Pittsburgh Penguins, too, and that didn't turn out so well for Gerber. He surrendered a goal on the first shot he faced, a harmless looking attempt from the side of net by Tyler Kennedy. He gave up an overtime winner to the same guy, on a shot most NHL goalies would have surely knocked away, and in between, just the third goal (another softie) in the 220-game career of defenceman Rob Scuderi.

That backup Alex Auld brilliantly stopped 30 Penguin offerings in a 3-1 victory the next day gave nervous Ottawa hockey fans a debatable topic on their team before 26 other NHL clubs have played their first game.

'ALEX PLAYED WELL'

"Gerber's starting," Hartsburg told the media after yesterday's practice, speaking with a quiet chuckle that suggested he didn't even think there'd be a question as to the choice. "It was our plan to start (Gerber and Auld a game each) in Sweden. Both were going to play. Obviously, Alex played well and unfortunately for Gerbs he had a tough night. But he's going to rebound for us. He's a good goalie."

Hartsburg decried usage of the C-word.

"It's not a controversy, really," he said. "We brought Alex in here to be a real good goaltender, and he showed in that game he was. He's here to support and to be that guy behind Martin, to give us quality games. Martin will bounce back. He's a veteran guy and we've just got to move forward. That's the plan ... he'll do a good job for us."

"For me, I've got to do a better job, push harder at practice," said Gerber, whose work ethic will never be questioned.

About the weak goals in Stockholm, he said the breakdowns were "small things."

"It wasn't like I was out of position," he said. "I was just giving a little more hole than I should. It's something I have to take away."

Gerber was asked if he thought the media in Ottawa is unfair and too quick to jump on him.

"I don't really pay attention to you guys," he said with a laugh. "I'm sorry."

Auld, meanwhile, had no illusions of his current status.

"We have a lot of belief in Gerbs and what he can do," said Auld. "I'm just here to help. I'm preparing for my next game, whenever that is."

Hartsburg ran the players hard in practice, their first since returning from Sweden.

"It's two games in, we still have a lot of work to do," said Hartsburg. "We're happy we're making strides in the right direction."


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