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Goaltending matchup still a mystery

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
For at least five days now, it hasn’t exactly been a closely guarded secret.

Martin Gerber will be between the pipes tonight for the Ottawa Senators when they play their season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).

Senators head coach John Paddock made that clear over the weekend, when it was announced No. 1 goaltender Ray Emery wouldn’t be ready for the opener. Paddock confirmed Tuesday that Emery was likely seven to 10 days away from being game ready.

While it’s been widely reported that Andrew Raycroft will get the goaltending start for the Leafs – much heralded new Toronto netminder Vesa Toskala struggled during the pre-season – head coach Paul Maurice wouldn’t confirm the decision following Wednesday morning’s game-day skate.

Paddock said seeing Raycroft in net wouldn’t surprise the Senators.

“We know him through the league and he’s a fine goaltender,” he said. “We perhaps know him a little better than Toskala, but either one wouldn’t have been a surprise to start against us. We know they’ve got two good goaltenders.”

And so do the Senators, in Paddock’s mind.

“Goaltending should be the last thing we worry about,” he said Tuesday. “I look at it as a real strength.”

Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson, one of the National Hockey League’s top lines in 2006-07, are being reunited to start this season. Paddock said he won’t hesitate to let his top trio line up against the Leafs’ Mats Sundin, Nik Antropov and free-agent acquisition Jason Blake.

“We’re used to playing the last two years, power vs. power,” he said. “So if that’s the matchup Paul wants with the last (line) change, then we’ll probably try and satisfy that.”

Lineup notes

Emery traveled with the team to Toronto and skated on his own following the pre-game skate … Winger Josh Hennessy is also on the trip and healthy to play, but no announcement about who sits out tonight has been made yet.

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