So just when it seemed the Sens' goaltending situation was working itself out, with Ray Emery getting his 4th consecutive start last night in Carolina after back-stopping his team out of their 7-game slump, posting victories over Florida and Dallas, it took another unexpected turn.
While the Sens jumped out to the best start in NHL history, it was last year's flop, Martin Gerber, leading the charge with some outstanding netminding. Then the team hit the skids, and both he and Emery had some terrible outings. But it was Emery between the pipes, making some big stops in a shoot-out loss to Tampa Bay last week, so he got the start the next game vs. the Panthers, where they collected their first victory in 8 games. Then they had a very solid win over the Stars, and it seemed Emery had re-ascended the throne as this team's #1 goalie, as he was expected to be after taking them to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring.
But last night, less than 6 minutes in, after facing only 1 shot and with the Sens already up over the 'Canes 2-0, Ray Emery pulled himself, saying he had a hip injury.
Re-enter: Marty Gerber.
It's kind of funny - just when one or the other seems to be in total control, something happens and they swap positions yet again. Yesterday, it looked as though Emery was the go-to guy, but after last night's 6-0 romp over Carolina, with Gerber doing most of the work, it would appear that he's now in the driver's seat and will get the start tonight vs. Pittsburgh. Not bad for a guy who was only planning on getting one start on this current road trip.
It's sort of a relief to know the team has this luxury of two potential #1 goalies, even though they do eat up quite a chunk of the salary cap. With injuries and inconsistency, it's nice to know that chances are good at least one of them will be hot at any given time.
And last night, Darth Gerber was hot. Unfortunately, there will be an asterisk next to this shut-out for him. It's very unusual for a goaltender to leave the net while his team is winning, but that's exactly what happened last night when Emery pulled himself due to injury. So while Emery only played the first 6 minutes, he will be given credit for the win, even though Gerber played most of the game. And they both get credit for the shut-out, as they both did not allow any goals. A very unique situation, indeed.
As for the rest of the team - they were firing on all cylinders last night, completely shutting down Carolina. Dany Heatley potted two goals, and also scoring were Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher, Shean Donovan, and Dean McAmmond, with his first on the season, giving the Sens a resounding 6-0 victory.
Another headline from this game was the second-period tilt between Mike Fisher and Scott Walker. Fisher, unhappy after Walker crashed into Gerber in his crease, went after the 'Canes' tough-guy in what my dad called "one of the best fights I've seen in a long time". A lot of punches were thrown, with Fisher eventually cutting Walker open, and hey, doesn't everyone like to see blood? Then the two of them were kinda of in a bear-hug when Walker head-butted Fisher. I don't think he quite connected the way he wanted to, and it wasn't that severe, but it was still a head-butt. After that, Fisher really went to town on him, clearly having the edge in the fight. Walker ended up with the 5-minute major and game misconduct for his head-butt, and the league will also be reviewing. There's a strong possibility that he'll be suspended for his actions.
So what more could you want in a hockey game if you're a Sens fan? An interesting turn of events in the goaltending "controversy", a big win that sort of put the exclamation mark on the statement "They're back!", and a big fight to boot. What a game!!
I likely will miss tonight's game as I have a grading for my orange belt at Karate, but I'm hoping they do the same to the Penguins tonight.
GO SENS GO!!