By Ian Mendes, Sportsnet.ca
When the Ottawa Senators face the Toronto Maple Leafs to open the regular season on Wednesday night, they will have Martin Gerber as their starting goalie.
The club confirmed on Saturday morning that netminder Ray Emery’s surgically-repaired left wrist is not ready for game action.
“You never want to miss regular season games and I definitely wanted to be ready for that,” Emery said. “But I’d rather miss a game or two at the start of the regular season, than to have a nagging injury throughout the year.”
“He’s not going to play in Toronto. Just like any other player, he’s got to be game ready,” Senators head coach John Paddock said.
Emery underwent surgery in late June to repair damage to his wrist from an injury in a practice last November. He appeared in only one pre-season game in September, allowing two goals on nine shots on Tuesday against Philadelphia.
He was scheduled to play in both pre-season games this weekend as a final tune-up for the regular season. But Emery won’t dress for either game, as the club has recalled netminder Brian Elliott from Binghamton to back-up Gerber.
“I thought I could get in a couple of exhibition games before the start of the season, but I feel it’s best and the coaches feel it’s best, that I’m one hundred per cent before I get in there,” Emery explained.
Emery stated that he doesn’t feel like he’s suffered a setback in his rehabilitation – only that the recovery is taking longer than anticipated.
“I just don’t think I’m where I thought I would be,” he said. “Maybe I thought I was a bit more prepared to start working at it. Right now I feel it would be better to take some more time with it.”
“He’s just not where he wants it to be, he needs a little more strength in it and that’s just where we’re at,” Paddock added.
For Gerber, this marks the second straight season he will open the season as the starting goalie for the Senators in Toronto.
However, he lost his job as the starting goalie to Emery last season, after a subpar start in October and November. Gerber stopped short of saying he could win back the No. 1 job through Emery’s injury, saying only he appreciates the opportunity.
“It’s great to get in there, it’s what you look for. I’m pretty excited moving forward,” Gerber said.
Paddock said he feels comfortable using Gerber to start the regular season, considering he won 12 of his final 15 regular season starts last year and he has looked sharp in training camp.
“I don’t expect very many poor games from our goaltending during the course of the season,” Paddock said. “In some ways, based on the way Martin has played in training camp, it’s an easier injury to overcome.”