Over the past two months, it seems as if every Ottawa Senators fan except me has jumped onto the Gerber bandwagon. Nothing I say can seem to bring them back onto the Emery bandwagon. Even hardcore Senators fans who write about them for a living have proclaimed Gerber king. But before you join them in proclaiming Gerber king, let me argue my points of why I believe we should keep Emery.
Antics - Many people are saying how Emery's off ice and on ice are distracting to the rest of the team but instead, I believe that this actually benifits the team. When a player does something outside of the arena (ie. Car Accident) it tends to take the media spotlight off the the team and puts it on that one indiviual player and Emery has no problem handling media pressure. This is especially beneficial if the team is currently in a slump. Remember the Tavares/Tlusty incidents in Toronto? When that happened everyone forgot about how much the Leafs were sucking at the time, taking the pressure off the rest of the team. Besides, Emery is young and will eventually become a mature, responsible player. But for now, he is giving the team some color and fun, something they have lacked in the past. As Jame Duthie said, Ray Emery is a reporters best friend.
Age - Simply said, Gerber is 33 old and Emery is 24. Now some people are suggesting that we should go with Gerber, and then go with Brian Elliott, but how is a GM to know that a prospect is going to be an NHL caliber goaltender? Many goaltenders are stellar in their first NHL game and then go on to become a career backup. He has posted poor numbers in the AHL and has been unseated by Jeff Glass as Binghamton's number 1 goalie.
Performance - While Emery has played poorly so far, he has been rusty in almost every game so far because John Paddock is only giving Emery a start every 2 weeks. By the time he gets into a groove, Paddock puts him on the bench for another two weeks. On Saturday against Philidelphia was the first time that Ray has played in 2 games within 4 days of each other and while he was terrible in the first two periods of the Buffalo game, he picked up his play and in the Flyers game he was excellent in place of Martin Gerber stopping 14 of 15 shots and the only goal he allowed was a onetimer that even Bob Cole said he had no chance on. If Paddock starts Emery against the Islanders, Expect him to have an excellent game. Also, rarely does a goaltender come off of major surgery and continue where he left off. Most need a month or so to readjust and get their groove back.
Attitude - He has been accused of being a cancer in the dressing room but has an actually shown any proof of this? No. Most people are just assuming that because Emery is not playing, that he tends to female dog and moan to everyone on the team. But from what I've seen so far, Emery attitude has been excellent so far. He regularly prasies Gerber to the media, says that as long as the team is winning, he doesn't care if he is playing or not. Sounds like quite a teammate to me. Besides, when a goalie gets pulled and throws a temper in the aisle, spashing his stick, he is the one with an attitude problem because goalies get pulled all the time. Martin Broduer was pull once despite not letting in a goal for the entire gamelt that he was not playing up to his skill level and pulled him before his confidence was shattered. Did he complain? No. He keep his mouth shut and let the coach do his job.
Contract - Ray Emery, including this year, has three years left on his contract at a cap hit of 3.167 million. Gerber has two years remaining with a cap hit of 3.7 million. So we have Emery for longer at a cheaper price and with the extra cap space, the team can get a decent back up such as Curtis Joseph for 0.6 million a year.
Playoff Experience - For a team that has a history of "choking" in the playoffs, Ray Emery is the logical goalie to go with. Emery has played 30 games in the playoffs and has a 2.46 GAA and a .904 SV%. Gerber has played 8 playoff games, 2 of which he was the starter, and has a 3.48 GAA and a .854 SV%. I would be scared to have to depend on Gerber in the playoffs.
Pressure - Ray Emery loves pressure. He lives off the stuff. Gerber, on the other hand has been known to fail under pressure.
Ability to Steal Games - Last season, on more than one occasion, Emery kept Ottawa in the game and help the team win when the rest of the team was playing poorly. This season, in the two games that the defense played terrible, Martin Gerber was unable to keep the team in, allowing 5 goals on 25 shots and 3 goals on 25 shots, and in those games, many of the goals were soft goals that as Paddock said, are routine saves.
Skill - Both goaltenders have lots of skill but unlike Gerber, Emery also has lots of potential. Both goalies, this year have shown poor lateral movement, but, in my opinion, Emery's lack of lateral movement can be attributed to his rustiness and surgery as we can all remember the many sprawling saves that he made last year. To the average person it may look as if Gerber does have good lateral movement, but if you notice, when Gerber moves side to side, he stands up slightly and pushes off, something that can lead to a 5 hole goal. Emery on the hand is able to move side to side while remaining in the butterfly position. Also Emery has much better rebound control putting pucks to the side or corners. Gerber, on the other hand put pucks right back into the slot, often having to be cleared by the defence.
Work Ethic In Practice - Gerber does have better work ethic than Emery, who doesn't bother with optional practices, although 90% of the team doesn't go to optional practice. If Paddock want Emery to show at the practice, he would have told him to be there. Also, when Paddock said to the media that Emery has poor work ethic in practice, he also said that many other players on the team need to have better work ethic but I don't see anyone telling them to work harder and attend optional practices.
So, as you can see, Emery is the better choice.