He's been called the Swiss Cheese for what is perceived as his sometimes lackluster performance. But does Gerber really merit the nickname? His play of late is vintage Martin Gerber, and many have acted surprised at his steady play. No he's not flashy, no he's not flamboyant, but boy, can he be solid... like the Swiss Alps?
His beginning in the NHL as back-up goalie to Jean-Sebastien Giguere was not "lackluster". The game he brought from the SCL Tigers of Switzerland and the Swedish Farjerstads BK, where he was loved by the fans for his great goaltending, was quite up to NHL snuff. His 6-11-3 record with the Mighty Ducks that year doesn't show his performance quite as clearly as his 1.94 GAA and his .929 save percentage in his 20 starts; those are serious goaltending numbers. Furthermore, he got exposed to a great organization that year, and got introduced to the hype and playing style of the NHL playoffs, right up to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, experience that would serve him well in later years.
Perhaps the Ducks management skimmed over the goalie stats and simply looked at the win-loss ratio, but Gerber found himself traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. He put his talent to work for them and, in 2005-06, posted a solid 38-14-0 record for the season. He would have been the prime goalie for the Canes in the playoffs if he hadn't been sidelined by a virus. Many remember only Cam Ward after that, but Gerber did come back during the playoffs, posting a 4-0 shutout against the Sabres in the Conference finals. Gerber also earned something for which most goalies would give up their lucky pads: a Stanley Cup ring.
In the 2006 Winter Olympics, Gerber was netminder for the seriously underpowered Swiss national team. Gerbs was facing a Canadian powerhouse that included such names as Iginla, Lecavalier, Heatley, Doan, Nash, Sakic, Thornton, Smyth, St-Louis... it was going to be a massacre. Yet, Gerber stopped all 49 shots aimed at the net by the Canadian team and added a 2-0 Olympic shutout to his already impressive record. The Swiss crew finished ahead of the Canadians that year.
Gerber is now once again in great shape with the Senators, ticking along like a Swiss watch: not fancy but reliable. Yet the naysayers still think he doesn't have the confidence to make it all the way. Even after an impressive start to the season, he was sidelined in favour of an average Ray Emery, a glaring display of lack of confidence by the coaching staff. It is therefore of little surprise that Gerber's performance suffered; playing his heart out had not been enough for him to carve his place amongst the Senators.
With Paddock gone, Gerber is once again getting time between the pipes, and showing off what he is capable of when given the confidence of his coach. Gerber kept the Senators alive during their recent West Coast tour, giving them a chance to win every single game. Over the four games, he posted a 2.25 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Unfortunately, the Senators' guns were quiet, and the losses were due to a alck of scoring.. No one can place the blame on Gerber's goaltending.
He is getting the nod once again tomorrow as the Senators face the Bruins in Ottawa. His quiet unpretentious style seems to have garnered him the nod as the Sens #1 goalie, and it's about time. After all, who better than a Swiss to stand guard at The Bank!!