Emery prefers Big Apple glitz

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Ray Emery will snooze without fear of missing too much this week.

In expressing the views of most teammates, coaches and probably even a few members of the media, the Senators goalie said he was kinda pulling for the Rangers to beat the Sabres in their Eastern Conference series.

Like the majority, Emery prefers visiting the City That Never Sleeps over the Town That Barely Rustles.

"I'm not a big fan of Buffalo, man," he said through a grin after yesterday's practice. "There's not a lot to do on days off."

Now, the same complaint isn't heard from the chicken wing-loving sportswriters who, after numerous business trips to the Queen City, have grown to enjoy the string of bars on Chippewa Street known as The Chip Strip. The Peel Street Pub is pretty good, too.

But hockey players in pursuit of a Stanley Cup generally stay away from fast foods and cold suds. Hence the entertainment dilemma.

Emery, who was born and raised in a Hamilton-area neighbourhood he figures was about a 45-minute drive from Buffalo, claims he never went to a Bills game and only went to see the Sabres play once.

"My dad was a Flyers fan," he said. "I saw Ron Hextall throw a pretty good hip check."

Such fond memories probably helped mold Emery into a goalie who likes to get involved in the contact part of the game. After being cooped up in a Buffalo hotel earlier this season, his yearning for action was so strong it took him down ice and into a neighbourhood that was particularly rough at the time.

There, he fought not only Sabres goalie Martin Biron but also team enforcer Andrew Peters.

While acknowledging there is a "little bad blood" between the Eastern Conference finalists and that the Senators have the "revenge factor" working in their favour, Emery is only interested in beating the Sabres on the board this time.

"I probably won't stay in my crease, but I doubt I'll make it past the blue line," he joked.

THIS AND THAT: In retrospect, Jason Spezza says, losing to the Sabres in five games last year was better than being eliminated in seven, on "a bounce here or there." Said Spezza: "To lose in the fashion we did maybe fuelled us to become a better team sooner." While he believes the Senators had more talent than the Sabres, he says Buffalo showed itself to be the better "team" by winning the overtime and close games. Are the Senators a better team than the Sabres this year? "I think we're a better team," Spezza said, "than we were last year." ... A year later, you're seeing the highlights again. Jason Pominville killing a penalty, skating around Daniel Alfredsson into the end corner, cutting out in front of Emery, scoring the overtime goal to send the Senators packing for the summer. While TSN's Bob McKenzie said the 2007 Alfredsson would have "caved" Pominville in on that play, the captain disagrees. "I wouldn't have changed anything," Alfredsson said yesterday about the approach he took on Pominville. "He makes a great play. I have him on a bad angle ... we have to win the game. Obviously, I couldn't have put him down. I would have taken a penalty."

SNAP SHOTS: Suffering a big loss the other day was Binghamton G Kelly Guard, who is in town practising with the Senators black aces. Guard's Black Ford F350 Harley Davidson edition was stolen from the parking lot of the Holiday Inn. While he's naturally hopeful of the truck's return, he's especially anxious to get back the 2004 Memorial Cup ring that was inside. To win that championship, Guard's Kelowna Rockets beat the Gatineau Olympiques.


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