Gerber will carry the load for next three games after Emery suspension
|Martin Gerber says he feels his game has improved over the past two months. Photo: T. Anderson/OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators received news this morning from the NHL office that goaltender Ray Emery has been handed a three-game suspension for his high-sticking infraction against Montreal Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre during a 5-3 victory on Saturday.
"I spoke with (NHL senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations) Colin Campbell this morning and told him I realized I made a mistake and that it was not my intention to hurt anyone and I was glad that I didn't," Emery said after practice today.
"I made a mistake and now I'm paying for it. I still get to practice and I'm sure (Senators strength and conditioning coach Randy Lee) will have me work out so I stay in shape. I just want to be ready for when I have a chance to play again."
Martin Gerber will start for Ottawa over the next three games - including matches against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday and Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 20. -
"I'm not focusing on the three games, just the next one is the most important," Gerber said. "Preparation is the same. You can't switch your rhythm or habits just because something like (Emery's suspension) happens."
Gerber has won his last three games, including a pair of victories over the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 23 and Jan. 7, and a win over the Washington Capitals on Jan. 30. His teammates are confident he can keep his streak going.
"(Gerber) has been working hard," centre Jason Spezza said. "We've been riding Ray and he's been great. Now Gerbs steps in, and we feel confident with him."
He's a competitive guy, a battler," added Senators head coach Bryan Murray. "He'll play real well for us."
Murray says Emery can take advantage of the suspension.
"In one respect, it's a bit of a break for him mentally. He can kind of step back and come to practice and know he's not going to dress for a game and maybe be a little less intense. In another way, it's hard. When you're a pro, you want to keep playing."
Senators split up into two teams at practice
Murray and his coaching staff split the Senators into two teams -- Team Black and Team White -- today at practice to create a bit more of a competitive atmosphere.
"We tried to get them to have a little bit of fun but to be involved a little bit emotionally, as well," Murray said. "They were competitive. They were battling and trying to beat the other guy, and I liked that part of it."