Monday, March 31, 2008

Senators On The Verge With Gerber

What is Bryan Murray supposed to do now? His choice of Martin Gerber to be the team’s number one goalie had some positive effect on the team in the short term, but now the ship is starting to list.

Despite fan rantings to the contrary, the defensive play of the Senators has vastly improved of late. When Murray did the unthinkable by breaking up Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov, the resulting new pairings have looked rock-solid at times with most of the egregious giveaways being committed by the forwards trying to help clear the puck out of the zone. Mike Commodore and Andre Meszaros are a great fit as is Wade Redden and Volchenkov. Murray now has balance on all three units, with offensive players buttressed by defensive ones. Right now Luke Richardson is the odd man out but he might play better in spot duty anyways.

But then it all comes back to goaltending doesn’t it? Murray was so adamant about Gerber being the number one guy that Ray Emery started collecting dust on the bench and his game is nowhere near where it should be in case Gerber gets injured, or worse, collapses in the playoffs.

And make no mistake. Martin Gerber is a disaster waiting to happen for the Ottawa Senators.

He’s certainly a fan favourite right now, but how much of that is due to the fans rejecting the “antics” of Emery en masse? It’s hard to fathom how anyone can have so much confidence in a goalie with one playoff victory in his entire career and a history of folding under pressure in almost every situation.

Yet Murray has chosen his man and he will have to live with the consequences. It’s hard to fault Murray as he seemed more preoccupied with putting the Emery media circus in the rear-view mirror. Starting Gerber in every single game but one since he took over was the way he did it… and it worked. There has hardly been a whisper about Ray except for the usual knife-in-the-back jabs from a still morally outraged Bruce Garrioch.

But what if the team has to go back to Emery to salvage their season? It shouldn’t surprise anyone if this becomes a real situation. Emery is the most successful goalie the Senators have ever had. Yet John Paddock very early in the season decided to stick with Gerber once Emery was healthy and we all know what happened after that.

Both Ray Emery and the Ottawa Senators organization have made some colossal mistakes this season. But they may need each other in the end anyways.

Clearly, the pressure is on Gerber to step up and start stealing some games the way every number one goalie does from time to time when his team is slumping.

The question is, does Gerber have what it takes? Has he ever?
It's not too late for him to turn around his reputation and live up to his billing. But who's willing to put money on it?
Not me.


Anonymous said...

Nice try. Not. The team needs to gets its scoring back on track. Two games without any goals at all is unacceptable. Yet some of the best scorers in the league are on this team. The number of turnovers is still of major concern, the sloppy passing, and taking stupid/too many penalities as well. Too easy to blame a goaltender, who by the way, continues to have better statistics than Emery. This team has always had weak defence, only this year they are worse, PLUS the forwards have shut down. Every year people blame the Sens goaltending for team problems. Can't ignore them now, they're too obvious.

Anshu said...

I agree with anonymous. Coming off a shutout loss, I can't see how you blame the goalie. Unless you're proposing dressing Emery as a power-forward to give the team more offence?

Jeremy Milks said...

I'm not blaming the goalies for the last two games. It's an overall impression of both Gerber and Emery.

Offense comes and goes with this team and every team. The real problems lie in net and I'm far from convinced that Gerber is the solution.

Thanks for your opinions and keep coming around.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I don't trust Gerber farther than I can throw him. I hope I'm wrong, 'cause if not this team is going nowhere fast.

Gareth said...

Assuming we get into the playoffs, Gerber gets two games.

If he has two solid starts, he'll carry the Sens as far as the team can go. Otherwise, the ghost of playoffs past will raise its head and crush whatever is left of Gerber's confidence.

Then Emery gets the start and we are still screwed.