Gerber: Sitting 'sucks'

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

As the Senators try to "right the ship", only one guy appears to be currently walking the plank.

And even he might not be cast adrift quite yet.

American Hockey League all-star Brian Elliott will make his second start in goal tonight when Ottawa hosts Carolina at Scotiabank Place. That means Martin Gerber, who won 38 times for the Hurricanes before signing a three-year, free-agent deal with the Senators in 2006, will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game.

GM Bryan Murray said a decision will be made following the game on Elliott's immediate future. If he's on the team charter to Atlanta later tonight, Gerber is likely headed to the waiver wire and, from there, probably to Binghamton.

"What do you think?" Gerber snapped at an out-of-town reporter yesterday when asked how it felt to be yanked from the lineup again. "It sucks."

Gerber's future isn't the only cloudy one in Senatorsland. With the team having lost five in a row and eight of its last nine to fall 15 points out of the playoff picture, Murray and owner Eugene Melnyk are still in wait-and-see mode in regards to any drastic moves. That includes the fate of coach Craig Hartsburg.

"I've talked to Mr. Melnyk on a regular basis about everything," said Murray. "We've talked about players, we've talked about coaches, we've talked about what we're doing in the future or not doing in the future, but we'll decide that at a proper time. We want this group to try to win (tonight).

"I'm going to watch our team over the next two games and then we'll see if some players have to do something other than play for Ottawa."

Hartsburg, who will have Alex Auld as his backup goalie again tonight, continues to view things "one day at a time." His own job included.

"It's not easy for anybody," he said. "All of us, coaches, players ... it's been a tough, tough first half of the year. But you still believe. I still believe this group can win some hockey games and be a good team.

"I know the coaching staff, we're certainly not putting our heads in the sand and saying it's not our fault. There are things we have to continue to work at, and get better. If we haven't done our jobs, then shame on us, but there's not a day that goes by we don't try to find a way, and find solutions."

Among the tinkering he's done for tonight's game is with the power play, which hasn't scored in three games. And it's a significant alteration, indeed.

TWO GOALS IN 15 GAMES

Two-time 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley, who has just two goals in the last 15 games, has been shuttled to the second unit alongside Antoine Vermette and Nick Foligno and with pointmen Alexandre Picard and Christoph Schubert behind them. The first unit has Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and either Mike Fisher or Chris Neil up front, with Brendan Bell and Filip Kuba on the points.

Hartsburg said there was too much perimeter play with the previous configuration (Heatley, Spezza, Alfredsson) and the idea is Fisher and Neil will create some traffic and trash in front of the net.

"First unit, second unit, call it what you want right now," said Heatley. "We're just trying to put the puck in the net and score goals on special teams."

Pulling the trigger a little more often would help. With a team-high 24 minutes of ice time in Saturday 2-0 loss to the Rangers, Heatley had just one shot on goal.

Admitting that this is "for sure" his toughest time as a Senator, Heatley denied the players were distracted by the anticipation of change or paying too much attention to the speculation.

"There's speculation everywhere," he said. "There was speculation when we were winning last year, or the year before. This is a very good town for rumours all the time. We're used to it, and our job is to come to the rink every day, work hard and try to win games."

Said Alfredsson: "It's on us to make this turn around and we've got to do it. It's been close a lot of games and we've been finding ways to lose. If we can turn that around and get some wins, some confidence in our game, it could change quick.

"Obviously, it's tough to (imagine not making the playoffs). We've made it a lot of years in a row. But that's not the first thing that comes to mind. It's staying in the present, and working as hard as you can to right the ship and get going."


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