Ray Emery’s turn has finally arrived.
The Senators’ No. 1 goaltender will make his first start of the pre-season tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., Rogers Television, Team 1200). Emery, who’s been on the mend following off-season surgery on his left wrist, made it clear after today’s morning skate that he’s itching for some game action.
“I’m anxious to get in there,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m still getting my feet under me. We’ll see how it turns out.”
With the pre-season schedule drawing to a close, Emery wants to get in as many tune-ups as possible before the Oct. 3 regular-season opener in Toronto.
“I’ve had a couple games in mind that I wanted to start,” he said. “(Monday) night was one of them, but I didn’t think I was quite ready. The way the games are this week, it’s either tonight or the weekend. I wanted to get in there tonight and see how things are.”
Senators head coach John Paddock said he isn’t sure if Emery will play the full game tonight – Martin Gerber will suit up as the backup. But Paddock said his starter’s arrival between the pipes falls right into line with the coaching staff’s plans.
”This is when it was going to happen,” he said. “We knew last week it was going to happen … it would have been a surprise to me if he wasn’t playing tonight.”
Paddock’s concern tonight isn’t about how Emery’s left wrist reacts to game situations, but rather where his starter is at in terms of conditioning.
“We want to see whether he’s ready go full bore,” he said. “Just see where he’s at game wise and conditioning wise.”
The return of Emery puts the Senators roster one big step closer to full health as the regular season looms. There’s still hope that centre Mike Fisher, who’s recovering from a groin injury suffered in the Stanley Cup final last June, might see some playing time over the weekend.
“I think it’s good news,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson
, who’ll be back in the lineup himself tonight after illness sidelined him Monday in Toronto. “We’re getting (Emery) back and he could probably use the two games. It’s such a vulnerable position, so I’m sure he’d like to get a couple of games in before the season starts.”
Defenceman Wade Redden had hoped to return tonight, but decided to give his ailing back another night off.
“It’s just a bit of stiffness in my back, it’s kind of inflamed a little bit,” he said. “It still hasn’t settled down completely. I’d rather get it feeling good before pushing it too hard.
“I’m planning on having it as good as new in a few days.”
The Senators pared their roster down to 29 this morning. Forwards Cody Bass and Danny Bois, and goaltenders Brian Elliott and Jeff Glass were assigned to the Binghamton Senators, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate. Two other forwards, Matt Kinch and Justin Mapletoft, were placed on waivers to send them to Binghamton.
The B-Sens play their pre-season opener Wednesday night against the Hershey Bears at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.