Net gains for Sens goalie

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

BUFFALO -- The Sabres know they're seeing a different Ray Emery this time.

Last year, the second-round playoff series opened with plenty of uncertainty for the Senators goalie. Many observers wondered if veteran Dominik Hasek might return from his adductor muscle injury and knock Emery to the sidelines

Emery arrived at this year's Eastern final, which began last night at the HSBC Arena, as the clear-cut No. 1.

"What happened to him last year was a little unfair," said Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere. "It was a very tough situation and he handled it probably as well as he could have. You've seen that this year, he's played much better and he's relished the role as No. 1."

"There's a lot of confidence with him now," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff. "Probably because he knows he's the No. 1 and really there's no threat. I really think he has gained a lot of confidence from that."

Emery said he is more comfortable.

"Maybe the guys have more confidence in me and I feel like I'm able to contribute more, but last year, I didn't really think about it that much, to be honest with you," said Emery. "(The experience last year) was great. It was a learning experience ... I learned kind of by trial and error how to react to a loss, a win, series win, times off and things like that."

KEEPING QUIET

When the NHLPA reps unanimously decided to dump executive director Ted Saskin yesterday, the Senators and Sabres weren't on the conference call. Captain Daniel Alfredsson, a VP on the union's executive committee, had no comment. Chris Phillips, the Senators' NHLPA rep, said they would be updated about what happened on the call later in the day.

OFF THE GLASS

Keeping injuries a secret is important in the playoffs -- just ask New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello -- but the Senators have also taken measures to make sure there are no leaks. A black curtain has been put up in front of the training room in the Ottawa dressing room at the HSBC Arena to make sure nobody can see in or out ... C Mike Comrie, who missed two days of practice with what is believed to be an upper body ailment, was on the ice for Game 1. RW Patrick Eaves remained out after suffering a concussion in Game 3 of the series against Pittsburgh. "We think he'll definitely be available by (tomorrow)," said Senators coach Bryan Murray ... Instead of staying at the team hotel, Senators GM John Muckler is at his home in a nearby suburb. Nice neighbourhood ... Hockey Night in Canada's Harry Neale and former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman live nearby.


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