Sens' Gerber under fire

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

Martin Gerber's grip on the Senators' No. 1 goaltending job is hanging by a thread.

Frustrated with Gerber's play early in the regular season, Senators coach Craig Hartsburg told reporters yesterday if backup Alex Auld plays well enough to win tonight against the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Place, he could be back in net tomorrow in Toronto.

While Hartsburg planned to start Gerber against the Maple Leafs, the Senators will go with whoever has the hot hand and if Auld is able to close out this five-game homestand with a win, he'll likely get another chance.

"I said earlier in the week that'd we go back with Gerber because that's what we had planned, but you know what, if Alex goes in there and is a stud and a star, that's what we're looking for," said Hartsburg yesterday. "We've said from day one that Martin was our No. 1 goaltender, but I also said that he has to play like it. I'm not standing here just blaming the losses on our goaltending, but he's part of our team. We play well for a while and then we don't ... and Martin is the same way."

Hartsburg wasn't pleased with the way the club started Thursday's 3-1 loss to Florida. He's angry because virtually every mistake is ending up in Ottawa's net.

"No question (a big save or two would help)," said Hartsburg. "It's very important we get big saves at the right time of the game. (Gerber) makes a lot of saves in the game, but you leave every night thinking: 'He could have had that one or he should have had that one.'

"We're early in this, but we start to see trends and that's something that we have to address with Martin. Alex will play and we'll go from there."

Gerber said he understands the criticism, but didn't agree with an assertion by Hartsburg that there might be something "technical" wrong with his game.

'LAST LINE OF DEFENCE'

"The goalie is the last (line) of defence so it's going to live and die with you," said Gerber. "It's nothing new. Everything gets analyzed and it's part of the game.

"I don't think it's anything technically. I might have to do a better job getting in front of the puck and maybe giving myself a better chance to get hit. I think it's small things, but they all add up and I've just got to work things out."

Auld isn't looking past tonight's visit by the Ducks.

"It's been a while (since starting), but I've been working hard in preparing for this one whenever it came. I'm excited and I'm ready and looking forward to it," said Auld, who hasn't played since he made 30 stops in a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 5 in Stockholm.

"I've been in this situation so many times before. It's something that you get used to and you know how to prepare for it.

"That's why the last three weeks in practice have been so important for me. As you get older, you learn how you have to be in all situations."


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