Former Ottawa Senator Peter Schaefer rolls back in to Bytown tonight but don't look for him on the top line where he was playing at the start of the year. After being a healthy scratch last week for a game against the Islanders, Schaefer is now plugging along on the Bruins fourth line after scoring just 7 goals so far this season.
He's been a No. 1 left wing. A member of the top power-play unit. A regular penalty-killer.
But now, Schaefer finds himself lower on the depth chart than rookies Vladimir Sobotka, David Krejci, and Pascal Pelletier, fighting to reclaim the minutes Julien has doled out elsewhere.
"He's put himself in a position where he's got to work his way up the ladder again," said Julien of Schaefer. "Axelsson had the same issue at the beginning of the year. He responded well. We're hoping Peter's going to do the same thing. His play will dictate how much he plays. His play will definitely dictate whether he makes a difference on this hockey club or not."
Ottawa fans are quite familiar with Schaefer's quirky style of play and shouldn't be surprised at his lack of goal scoring despite having some impressive skills. The guy simply doesn't shoot. His one great skill was winning battles along the boards but he did that almost exclusively to the point that if he was on a breakaway, you almost expected him to dish the puck into the corner so he could fight for it.
What happens if Martin Gerber loses tonight? Has John Paddock painted himself into a corner with his "win and you're in" philosophy?
That would mean Ray Emery getting the start in Toronto on Saturday. I'm not sure how that would go over with the media here in Ottawa. They've worked themselves up so much about the "clown prince" Emery that writers like Wayne Scanlan and Bruce Garrioch might have massive coronaries at the sight. (Just check out Scanlan's hysterics: "Get rid of this guy. Week in, week out, he embarrasses his teammates, his coaches, the entire Senators organization. He embarrasses this city.")
The agenda is very clear now. They are intent on running Emery out of town and I wouldn't be surprised to see Scanlan and Garrioch burning Emery in effigy much like some psychotic fans in Arnprior did when Alexei Yashin was public enemy number one.
The team has got to get some damage control going here. People are reacting as if they had Charles Manson in the nets. That's not good for business no matter what side of the argument you're on.