Systematic approach


Martin Gerber has to get the bad goals out of his system.


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Martin Gerber has to get the bad goals out of his system.

That was the frank assessment yesterday from the coach of the Ottawa Senators, Craig Hartsburg.

It's little consolation that Gerber performed well for most of the two games in which he played: the season-opening 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Stockholm and Saturday's 3-2 loss at Scotiabank Place to the Detroit Red Wings.

What matters is that a number of goals he allowed were either bad or unlucky, and the Senators failed to win either game after entering the third period of both with one-goal leads.

After announcing yesterday that Gerber will start on Friday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes, Hartsburg also said he had taken another close look at the goals Gerber allowed against the Red Wings.

He liked some parts of Gerber's game and disliked others.

"Martin played a really strong game and he made tons of saves," said Hartsburg. "He gave us a chance to be in the hockey game. Unfortunately for him and the team, there are questionable goals.

"I know he's working extremely hard with (goalie coach) Eli (Wilson) to correct some of those things. If we can get those goals out of his game and he continues to compete the way he has in the rest of the hockey game, he'll be great for us.

"But for a goaltender there are questions when goals go in at questionable times and they look funny. Martin has to continue to work to get over that hump. In that hockey game, there's no chance we're in the game unless he plays well.

"But at the end of the night, still, we have to get something out of that game. He gave us a chance, but the questionable goals at the end will leave everyone wondering."

Gerber was as unhappy with the end to Saturday's game as any Ottawa fan. The winning goal, a shot by Johan Franzen that nicked Filip Kuba's stick and bounced its way in, still had him swearing yesterday.

"It was tough, bouncing all over the place," Gerber said. "One inch the other way and it would have been a different game."

He knows, though, that the criticism comes with the territory.

Two years ago, Gerber was surprised by the passion of the Ottawa hockey fan after receiving nowhere near the same attention while playing in Raleigh, North Carolina. But he's now used to the uproar that results when bad goals find their way in.

"You're the last line of defence," he said. "You're the last one who can do something about it. It happens, but it's definitely not a good feeling. It just came bouncing my way and the game was over. It's just unfortunate."

Hartsburg said he won't make a decision about Saturday's goalie until after Friday's game, though he'd like to get Alex Auld in the contest.

Auld has only played two games -- one preseason, one regular season -- but they were a week apart.

That's hardly ideal if you're seeking to establish any kind of rhythm.

"It's nice to play regularly, but with the way the schedule is now, it's tough," Auld said. "I've been through both sides in my career, playing every night and playing once or twice a month. So I've learned how to deal with it and how to prepare properly, and how to make sure, no matter what, I'm ready to go. It's not a big deal to me. I'll be ready when I'm told I'm playing."

Auld's last game, a 3-1 win over the Penguins in Stockholm, was in part responsible for throwing fuel on the team's perennial goaltending controversy. But Auld says the goalies sometimes scratch their heads and wonder what all the commotion is about.

"It's kind of what goes with the territory in Canada, I guess," he said.

"It's the way it goes. It's kind of puzzling in some ways, but it is what it is, I guess.

"All the scrutiny, both good and bad, just comes from people who want to see a winner.

"The people in the community, the media and everybody, they just want a championship, and that's what the players want, too, and the organization, so you've got to realize that everybody's on the same page."


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