|After leading the Senators to a 12-2-2 record in March, rookie goaltender Ray Emery was named NHL defensive player of the month on Monday. Photo: A. Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
Rookie Ray Emery has been credited for his great play in the Ottawa Senators net. On Monday, the Hamilton native was named NHL defensive player of the month for March.
"It was good for me to get an opportunity to play that many games," said Emery, shortly after Monday's pre-game skate. "We have some good guys back there (on defence). It makes it easy to shut teams down."
Filling in for injured starter Dominik Hasek, who strained an adductor muscle during last February's Winter Olympics, Emery tied former Philadelphia Flyer Bernie Parent's NHL record for wins in a month with 12 in March.
Emery also set a new NHL record earlier this season when he won his first nine games to begin his career.
"It's good to have the guys have confidence if something happens to Dom, that I can contribute and not be a liability," Emery said. "It's good just to have a chance to play."
Emery and the Senators rolled to a 12-2-2 record in March. The 23-year-old sported a record of 21-7-0 in his first 32 games played this season.
While appreciative for his opportunity in goal, Emery wishes it didn't come at the expense of the injured starter for Ottawa, however.
"I'm excited to play. I obviously want to play as much as I can, but Dom is my buddy. I don't want to see him hurt."
The Senators won't have Hasek, Zdeno Chara, Chris Phillips, Wade Redden, Martin Havlat or Mike Fisher back in the lineup tonight. Captain Daniel Alfredsson is also out because of the flu.
Forward Denis Hamel was recalled on emergency basis on Monday from the Senators' American Hockey League affiliate Binghamton Senators.
Chara spoke about the status of his bruised hand on Monday.
"The swelling has gone down and the motion is back. I need more treatments and a couple of more days. I don't know when I will be back, but it will be as soon as possible."
Despite a short-manned lineup, the Senators hope to even the season series against the Atlanta Thrashers tonight.
"This is a good hockey team who is fighting for their lives," said Jason Spezza of the Thrashers' drive towards the playoffs. "We want to win, without having any more casualties."