Commentary

Icing It Down: Gerber or Emery?

Updated: October 15, 2007, 2:38 PM ET
By Tim Kavanagh | ESPN.com

It's the age-old sports adage: A player should not lose his starting spot because of an injury. However, what should happen and what does happen are sometimes quite divergent things. Do you bench the player who is doing well just to maintain loyalty to the previous owner of that spot? There are cases across all the major sports in which the replacement has taken over and proved a better option than the player replaced.

Which brings us to the goalie situation in Ottawa. As Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski from "The Big Lebowski" might say, it's a very complicated case, a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous. Goaltender Martin Gerber, who had been ousted from his starter's role in Carolina in 2005-06 by eventual Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward, was brought in last year to backstop the Senators to a Stanley Cup. Just like that, though, he was replaced by Ray Emery, who ended up starting 56 regular-season games to Gerber's 26, then started all 20 games in the playoffs. Consequently, Emery was assumed to be the No. 1 guy coming into this season, as expectations were high on another strong run for the Cup. Then Emery suffered a wrist injury that has reopened the door for Gerber, and the Swiss veteran has had one of the hottest streaks to start a season in memory, putting up a 1.99 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage and five wins in his six starts. All signs point to Emery's retaining his grip on the starter's role, but expect controversy (at least among the fan base) if he faces some rough going early on.

'Tis But a Scratch

Ray Emery, G, Senators: Emery is very close to returning, and his latest AHL rehab stint went quite well (he stopped 46 of 48 shots). According to a report on the Senators' Web site, Emery is targeting either a Thursday return versus the Canadiens or a Saturday return versus the Panthers. It'll take him a little time to get up to speed, but he'll be back to his excellent form within the next two weeks. Weekly-lineup leagues, hold off until next week on inserting him in your active roster, but you daily-lineup leaguers should be ready to sub him in later this week.

Marian Hossa, RW, Thrashers: The Thrashers are still winless this year, and it doesn't help that Hossa, their offensive spark plug, hasn't played in more than a week. He's still hobbled by a groin injury and will attempt to play in Tuesday's game versus the Flyers, but he might wait until Thursday's home game versus the Rangers. It's difficult to replace Hossa's level of per-game production, but with Tuesday night's prospects up in the air, weekly-lineup owners should try to find a comparable option for this week. If you can do some positional shuffling, Brad Boyes or Niklas Hagman can pick up some of Hossa's slack and are still available in many leagues.

Mikael Samuelsson, RW, Red Wings: Samuelsson, a second-line winger, missed Sunday's game against the Kings because of a groin injury, but the injury is not considered serious. Expect to see him in the lineup against the Ducks on Monday or, at the latest, Thursday against the Sharks.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, G, Ducks: Jiggy returned Sunday night, and although he took the loss in his season debut, he was quite sharp, stopping 23 of 25 shots. Throw him back onto your active roster.

Todd Bertuzzi, RW, Ducks: In the same game, Bertuzzi, who already has been playing through a groin injury, skated just five shifts before leaving the game with what coach Randy Carlyle said is an apparent concussion. Seems he caught the wrong side of a Derek Boogaard shoulder. The severity of Bertuzzi's concussion is unknown, and he will be re-examined Monday, but Carlyle told the Los Angeles Times that Bertuzzi is "highly doubtful" for Monday night's home game against Detroit. For the time being, take Bertuzzi out of your lineup. He has established himself as an important cog in the Anaheim offense so far, but he is no good for your team if he isn't suited up.

Alexander Semin, LW, Capitals: Semin has played in just one of the team's five games this year because of a lingering ankle injury. His absence is being felt not only by Semin owners but also by the owners of the rest of the Capitals' top six forwards. Chemistry with linemates is a large factor in offensive production, and any extended time off takes away from developing that chemistry. Moreover, Semin is a major force on the team's power-play unit.

Lights Out

Martin Havlat, RW, Blackhawks: The official word on Havlat's return is that there is no official word. The Blackhawks will get more details on his injured shoulder, then will release a more specific timetable for his return sometime this week. Holding pattern, folks.

Johan Franzen, LW, Red Wings: Franzen suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his right MCL on a hit in Chicago on Oct. 6, an injury that will sideline him at least the next 3-4 weeks. With the injuries to Franzen and Samuelsson (above), the Wings' second line consisted of Tomas Kopecky and Valtteri Filppula, alongside Jiri Hudler, in Sunday's game. The Franzen-Samuelsson-Hudler line will be an electric one once Franzen returns, so hang on to him if you have the space on your bench or in IR slots.

Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.

Tim Kavanagh

Fantasy and Insider
Tim Kavanagh is an associate editor for ESPN Fantasy and Insider, with specific responsibility for NHL and fantasy hockey coverage in addition to other sports.

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