Saturday, December 1, 2007

Could Emery bring us out of the rut?

Despite a 5-2 loss to the suddenly-surging New York Rangers, it looks like there might be light at the end of the tunnel for the Senators. About time, because it seems like it's been a damned long tunnel.

It all started with a terrible first period. Terrible for everyone, including (and probably especially) Martin Gerber. Good decision by John Paddock to leave Gerber in to finish the first period, and then start Ray Emery in the second.

Despite an early goal by Brendan Shanahan, the Sens began to turn their game around in the second, peaking with a goal by Joe Corvo after a rarely-successful Jason Spezza drop-pass. In the third, Dany Heatley tipped a pass from Spetzky right of Henrik Lundqvist's shoulder, but it was once again too little, too late for Ottawa and the Rangers added an empty-netter.

Rayzor played a good two periods of relief, and it looks like he may--once again--be answering everyone's calls for one of the goalies to snap us out of this streak. While we won't know until Tuesday's game in Tampa Bay, if Emery is able to play like he did Saturday then we'll be alright for a while.

To avoid confusion, I'm neither pro-Gerber nor anti-Emery. I'm pro-winning. As I said in my last post;
Last season, when The Gerber faltered, Rayzor earned the starter's job and ran with it. If he wants it this year, Emery is going to have to work a lot harder than he appears to be right now to get it.

I don't care how it happens, but this team has to win. I'm still skeptical as to Emery's value when he's playing poorly and upsetting the dressing-room dynamic, but as long as he starts winning we won't have to worry about that happening.

Mike Fisher snapped out of his one-game funk and played well, laying a total of seven punishing hits, including two painful-looking ones on defenceman Joe Girardi in the same shift. Christoph Schubert took a couple of shifts, but he eventually got his goove back on defence and looks to be alright alongside Chris Phillips. And finally starting to live up to his agitator billing was Shean Donovan, playing hard on the forecheck. It was also nice to see Chris Neil get under the skin of Scott Gomez, taking the Alaskan Wonder of his game for much of the latter stages.

On the other side of the coin, Wade Redden looked pretty bad on the first three Rangers goals. He and long-time partner Andrej Meszaros were split up, and Corvo played well beside Redden when the Sens were looking for offence, while Meszei--through little fault of his own--was demoted to playing third-set defence with Luke Richardson. I also have to agree with Jeremy of Black Aces on the Randy Robitaille front, as Ropes continued to look completely disinterested against the blueshirts.

As previously mentioned, look to Emery to start on Tuesday. If his play against New York is any indication, he might be starting to get back into his game.
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