Monday, March 06, 2006

Emery Steps Up!

Ottawa Senators GM, John Muckler can probably cross off goaltender on his must have list for the trading deadline on Thursday. With Domenic Hasek still rehabbing his groin injury, back up goaltender Ray Emery has had to shoulder the load and so far he’s been more than up to the challenge.

Emery has been hot since the return to action after the Olympic break as he holds the fort for the Senators night after night. Monday night he helped the Sens to their fifth straight victory, a 4-0 shut out of the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

This year’s edition of the Lightning is a far cry from the team that dominated the playoffs two years ago, they continue to have their difficulties and currently hold down seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but are only four points away from tumbling to ninth.

And while the bolts struggle, the Sens continue to soar. They’ve regrouped nicely after the Olympic break and are getting back to the dominating style of play they exhibited at the start of the season.

Even more rewarding for coach Bryan Murray is the fact that it seems that everyone is contributing in all facets, from the score sheet to the hit totals, it’s becoming a total team effort for the Sens. Something that should carry them far in the playoffs in another month and a bit.

When word first came out that Hasek had been injured at the Olympics, the automatic thought was that Muckler would be hot on the market looking for a suitable insurance policy for the rest of the year. He may still look for help at the back end, but with Emery showing his stuff with confidence, the requirement for goaltending may be just to back up the back up now. That should give Muckler the option of securing one more sniper for the offence to push the offensive output just a little bit more.

The Monday night game was marred by a bizarre episode involving Tampa Bay right-winger Evgeny Artyukhin, he received a match penalty at 17:53 of the second period during a scrum after he checked Vermette into the boards. He took the helmet of Vermette's head and hit him with it. An episode that will not doubt capture the attention of the NHL head office and most likely result in some enforced time off for the excitable Russian.

Vermette received medical attention and has collected a number of stitches as a reminder of the episode. It’s not expected that he’ll be missing from the line up when the Sens next see action on Wednesday against Florida.

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