Ray Emery can feel the clock ticking toward opening night.
But the Ottawa Senators’ No. 1 goaltender says he’s not about to push himself to be ready before it’s time.
“I feel rushed, but I’m not going to rush myself,” said Emery, who’s only faced nine shots worth of game action so far in the pre-season. “I played hurt last year and I don’t want to do that this year.”
|Rookie forward Nick Foligno (left) is still in the mix to make the Senators' opening day roster. |
Emery played in pain down the stretch last season as he fought off the effects of an injured right wrist that required off-season surgery. He didn’t begin taking full practice until the middle of last week.
But Emery is hopeful back-to-back starts against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., Team 1200, Rogers Television) and Sunday in Washington will push him closer to where he wants to be: Comfortable and confident for the Oct. 3 regular-season opener in Toronto.
“My focus right now is getting (the wrist) 100 per cent, getting it super strong and getting my game back,” said Emery. “I want to be aggressive and not worried about anything in there, because that’s when I play my best.”
Head coach John Paddock said Emery “has to be the judge” about whether he’ll be ready to start the season opener or whether the Senators will have to turn to backup Martin Gerber, who’s had a strong pre-season.
“If it’s something that’s going to negatively affect him on the weekend, then we’ll have to re-arrange our plans,” said Paddock.
Centre Jason Spezza
said the Senators are willing to wait a little longer for a fully healthy Emery, if that’s what it takes.
“The most important thing is we want him to take his time and make sure he’s ready,” said Spezza. “(Gerber) has also shown he’s a very good goaltender and we feel comfortable with him in net, too.”
Meanwhile, Senators centre Mike Fisher declared himself game fit after Friday’s workout and will see his first action of the pre-season against the Canadiens.
“I had some good treatments this week, I started to feel pretty good and the last few days went well,” said Fisher, who’s been recovering from a groin injury suffered during the Stanley Cup final back in June. “I’m looking forward to getting back.
“It’s been a frustrating summer, not being able to be in training camp. I’m excited to get in an exhibition game (Saturday) and get ready for the regular season.”
While Fisher’s return settles one roster issue, the concussion suffered by Dean McAmmond has left a rather noticeable void up front. The weekend, then, offers more opportunity for rookie forwards Nick Foligno
, Ilja Zubov
and Alexander Nikulin to state their case to stay with the big club when the regular season begins.
“I think we (coaches) have a pretty good handle on where they’re all at and who can help us the most,” he said. “It’ll be clear on Monday. Hopefully, it’ll be clear in a positive way.”Senators satisfied with suspension
Senators forward Dean McAmmond expressed satisfaction with the 20-game suspension handed down Friday to Philadelphia Flyers rookie Steve Downie, whose head shot during their game earlier this week knocked McAmmond unconscious and left him with a concussion.
"I feel the ruling is strong enough to prevent these things from happening in the future," McAmmond said in a statement released by the club. "At this point, the NHL needs to make a statement to try to protect players, and I hope that a suspension of this length will do that successfully."
General manager Bryan Murray added "The primary concern of our organization was, and continues to be, the health of Dean McAmmond. We feel the number of games of the suspension is appropriate, and the NHL has sent the correct message to address the severity of hits to the head like this one."