|Senators' goaltender Martin Gerber is taking
advantage of his playing time while filling in
for Ray Emery by helping Ottawa to a 4-0 start.
The Senators signed Gerber in the summer of 2006 with the expectations that he could help them get over the hump and make the Stanley Cup Final. They did get to the title round last spring -- with Ray Emery in the net and Gerber on the bench after a disappointing season.
But with Emery still recovering from offseason wrist surgery, Gerber has gotten another chance to play -- and he’s making the most of it. He’s been in goal for each of the Senators’ first four games -- all victories -- and has allowed just seven goals on 136 shots, a superb .949 save percentage.
Gerber’s performance has given the Senators the opportunity to let Emery recover on a more manageable timetable. And though it may cause management a few headaches later in the season -- having two starting goalies can be as bad a problem as having none -- for now, Gerber is a big reason that the Senators are off to the fastest start in the NHL.
Five up -- Five players who are off to fast starts:
Daniel Alfredsson -- Ottawa’s captain was the Senators’ best player in their loss to Anaheim in last spring’s Final, and he’s been their best offensive player so far this season. Alfredsson had a league-best five goals in Ottawa’s first four games, and his eight points were tied for first.
Paul Stastny -- Talk about a chip off the old block: The son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny had an opening-night hat trick in Colorado’s win over Dallas, then added a goal and four assists in a 6-2 win over San Jose for eight points in the season’s first week.
Mike Comrie -- How to make fans quickly: Comrie had two goals and two assists in his first game as a New York Islander, then added two more goals in his second game. His line, with wings Ruslan Fedotenko and Bill Guerin had 16 points in the Isles’ first two games.
Chris Mason -- Nashville’s new No. 1 goalie is quickly making everyone forget Tomas Vokoun. Mason shut out Colorado on opening night and allowed only a third-period goal in a 5-1 win over Dallas. In all, he allowed just one goal on 64 shots.
Olaf Kolzig -- At age 37, Kolzig looks as good as ever, and with an improved Washington team in front of him, he could be in position for a late-career surge. Like Mason, Kolzig allowed just one goal in his team’s first two games, both victories.
Five down -- Five players who are off to slow starts:
Miikka Kiprusoff -- It was not a good week for the Calgary Flames or their star goaltender. Kiprusoff allowed the game-winner in the final two minutes on opening night, then was beaten four times on the power play by the Vancouver Canucks in the second game, leaving the Flames 0-1-1 at the Pengrowth Saddledome after a league-best 30 home wins last season.
Patrik Elias -- New Jersey’s top scorer from last season is off to a slow start, with just one assist in the Devils’ first three games. He’s also minus-3 in the Devils’ 1-2-0 start.
Darcy Tucker -- The fiery Toronto winger is off to an awful start. He’s pointless through the Leafs’ first four games and is minus-5 with just seven shots on goal.
Jonathan Cheechoo -- The 2005-06 Rocket Richard Trophy winner has yet to find the back of the net. He’s without a goal or assist in San Jose’s first three games.
Tomas Vokoun -- Florida had big expectations for this season after landing Vokoun in an offseason deal with Nashville. So far, those expectations haven’t been met. Vokoun is 0-2-0 in Florida’s first two games and allowed nine goals on just 49 shots.
Injury news and notes -- The New York Rangers’ best pest, Sean Avery, is out for at least two weeks with a separated shoulder sustained last Saturday in Ottawa. The Rangers may shift Markus Naslund to Avery’s spot with Scott Gomez and Brendan Shanahan. … Washington sniper Alexander Semin has missed two of the Caps’ three games with ankle problems. … St. Louis defenseman Eric Brewer will miss the next two to three weeks after injuring his shoulder in the Blues’ season-opener in Phoenix. … Boston’s 3-1 win in Phoenix on Saturday was costly: No. 1 center Marc Savard left with what was called a “core” injury and could miss a few days. … Chicago hopes to have rookie center Jonathan Toews in the lineup this week; he’s been idled with a broken finger suffered in a preseason game. The Blackhawks also hope last season’s top scorer, Martin Havlat, can avoid surgery after injuring his shoulder on opening night. … Anaheim could get goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere and forward Sami Pahlsson back as soon as this week. Both are recovering from sports hernias. …. Toronto forward Jason Blake has been diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, a rare cancer of the blood cells. He’s undergoing treatment and is still playing. … Florida hopes to get forward Richard Zednik back this week; he’s been out with a shoulder injury. … Detroit center Johan Franzen will miss at least three weeks with sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. … New York Islanders forward Jon Sim is out with a sprained knee. The Islanders also signed veteran defenseman Bryan Berard, who’s expected to get lots of power-play time. The Isles waived defenseman Fred Meyer, who was claimed by Phoenix. .… Philadelphia signed another veteran defenseman, Rory Fitzpatrick. … Carolina forward Cory Stillman returned on Tuesday in Toronto after missing the Hurricanes’ first three games with a torso injury. Stillman had a goal and two assists in his first game back.
The week ahead -- New Jersey continues its tour of the East Coast as it waits for its new arena to be completed. The Devils play at Florida Thursday, their second visit to the Panthers in less than week. The Devils play their first nine games on the road. … Montreal finally opens at home Saturday after four games on the road, as do the San Jose Sharks. Boston completes its five-game swing through the Pacific Division in the Shark Tank before finally playing its home opener on Oct. 18. … Calgary begins a four-game trip on Wednesday with a game in Detroit. … Anaheim finally gets to play at home Wednesday night against Boston, then has home games Sunday (Minnesota) and Monday (Detroit). … Buffalo begins a four-game trip Thursday in Atlanta, and Calgary plays the first of four in a row on the road Wednesday in Detroit. … Carolina has four games left on a six-game trip, but after playing Thursday in Ottawa and Saturday in Montreal, the Hurricanes have six days off.