And so the plot begins to thicken at Senators training camp.
Fresh off a 52-save shutout performance against the Philadelphia Flyers, goaltender Martin Gerber was at the forefront of a lot of chatter at Scotiabank Place following practice Wednesday morning.
The same practice, it should be noted, that saw starter Ray Emery – who’s been nursing a wrist injury – face shots for the first time in training camp. But Gerber’s play Tuesday night, if anything, showed he’s ready to push for more playing time in the season ahead.
“He wants to battle for that (starting) job,” said defenceman Chris Phillips
, who was impressed by what he saw during the Sens’ 4-0 victory in London, Ont. “He played the best that he can for our team and that was good to see.”
Added captain Daniel Alfredsson
: “He was unbelievable. He looked really ready and he looked like he got more and more confidence as the game went on. He faced a lot of shots but I’m sure he felt so good, he would have liked to have faced some more.”
Count head coach John Paddock among the impressed, too. He called Gerber’s effort “a good confidence booster for him, for sure,” and will give the Swiss goaltender another start Thursday night against the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., Team 1200, Rogers Television).
But he indicated that whether Gerber can indeed challenge for – or take away – Emery’s No. 1 job remains a subject for another day.
“Ray won the job last year. That’s the way it was,” said Paddock. “Martin needs to play for the team, he needs to play for himself.
“I’m not looking at them like 1A and 1B. I’m looking at it like I have two NHL goalies. That’s the way it’s going to be.”
Another standout against the Flyers was rookie winger Nick Foligno
, who contributed a goal and two assists to the Senators’ cause. While Foligno is considered to be in the mix to possibly land one of the few available roster vacancies, he knows the battle is far from done.
“I thought I did the things they asked (Tuesday night), and I learned a little more along the way, things that I need to work on,” said Foligno, 19, the Sens’ top draft pick in 2006. “That’s good for me. It was my first exhibition game and I was excited. It was a good first step for sure.
“I felt like I answered the bell a little bit and hopefully I can keep going on from here. But I know I still have a long way to go.”
While most of the team’s top guns sat out against the Flyers, many of them are expected to suit up Thursday against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. It’ll be the Sens’ first game at Scotiabank Place since that giddy ride to the Stanley Cup final ended back in June.
In the wake of that, the buzz around this team is clearly louder than ever. On Saturday, Senators fans scooped up more than 19,000 tickets for the first 15 regular-season games in October and November – 6,000 better than last year’s record-setting total.
Only 350 tickets remain for the home opener against the Maple Leafs. Fewer than 500 are left for appearances by the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place on Oct. 18 and Nov. 10.