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Senators sticking with hot hand

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
When you’re riding a hot hand, why mess with success?

So it is that the Ottawa Senators will turn to goaltender Martin Gerber one more time Thursday night when the Montreal Canadiens visit Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., A-Channel, Team 1200). The Swiss goaltender, who owns a league-leading five wins to go along with his 1.99 goals-against average and .941 save percentage, has played a huge role in the Sens’ 6-1-0 start to the 2007-08 season.

“In some ways, it’s like why change at this stage?” Senators head coach John Paddock said after another brisk team practice Wednesday morning. “(Gerber) has deserved to play based on his play. It’s not like we’re 3-3 and we’re looking for a change or a spark.

Martin Gerber will make his seventh start of the season against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night (Andy Marlin/Getty Images).
“We’re looking for the situation to continue and I think when Rayzer (Ray Emery) plays, it will continue just because the team’s playing well. He’ll go into his spot and the team rolls on. That’s what we’re looking to do here, keep rolling on.”

Emery, who is raring to go after completing his recovery from off-season wrist surgery, now won’t make his season debut until Saturday at the earliest, when the Florida Panthers are in town. Paddock said it’s still too soon to make that decision.

Gerber has thrived on the heavy workload so far and, given that Senators are in the middle of a stretch with only three games in 18 days, welcomes another chance to start.

 “It’s definitely (great) for me to get back in there and it’s going to be an exciting game, too. I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I was really hoping to get the nod (Thursday). I wouldn’t have been surprised if Rayzer had played, because it’s been a long time (out of the lineup for him) and he has to get in there at some point.”

Clearly, though, this is a team that knows it has a more than capable stopper behind them every night, whether it’s Gerber or Emery between the pipes.

“Everybody’s trying to make a controversy about it and the season’s barely started,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “It’s a good problem for us to have. I think we’ve got good trust in Gerber, and we want Emery to get in there to play some games. That should give us a great 1-2 tandem.

“We definitely believe in both of them.”

One change in the lineup could come up front, where Paddock indicated newly signed Randy Robitaille will make his Senators debut. Robitaille cleared NHL waivers yesterday, which brought a smile of relief to the face of the Ottawa native.

The 32-year-old forward had started the season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the Russian Super League, but asked for his release when he learned that his wife, Joanne, is pregnant. They’re expecting their third child in January.

“It’s fortunate for myself and my family that we ended up in a good spot here,” said Robitaille. “I’m excited to be a part of this organization … what the Senators mean to this community is something special, and I’m excited to be a part of that. And it definitely makes things easier living at home and having the support of your family and friends.”

Who sits with Robitaille in? Paddock said that decision hasn’t been made yet.

“We could move Schubie (Christoph Schubert) back to D and make a switch there, or we could take a forward out,” he said. “We (coaches) haven’t talked about it yet.”

Fewer than 200 tickets remain for Thursday’s game.

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