Whither Ray Emery?

Gurnee-based blogstatician Christopher Altruda and I were kicking this around in the newsroom on another anti-social Saturday night shift in the wilds of Northbrook: Whither Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery?

Given Emery's recent behavioral shortcomings, such as fighting teammates in practice -- when he bothers to show up on time that is -- he almost certainly will be leaving Canada's capital soon.

He's cheap, as goaltenders go, having signed a three-year, $9.5 million deal in July. Now the big question: Where does he go? And who will take a chance on him?

Almost immediately, we envisioned him wearing a Tampa Bay Lightning sweater. Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 behind Nikolai Khabibulin and John Grahame, the Bolts have used the following players in net -- Grahame, Sean Burke, Gerald Coleman, Brian Eklund, Marc Denis, Johan Holmqvist and Karri Ramo.

Not exactly Murderer's Row.

But if Emery cannot seem to co-exist with general manager Brian Murray and coach John Paddock, how long will it be before he has a meltdown with Lightning bench boss John Tortorella, a man not shy about letting his emotions go?

Cue Altruda -- "I'm tired of the whining ... " (deep draw on cigarette before putting it out in some unsuspecting reporter's eye.)

And, God love the Windy City's most ardent Senators supporter: "If I can't have Martin St. Louis, I want Brad Richards."

I'd like Jessica Simpson and a can of Reddi-Wip, but that's not happening either. What's true about the Lightning is Vincent Lecavalier (team-high 68 points heading into Saturday) is an untouchable, and St. Louis (team-best 43 assists, second with 62 points) should be as well.

Richards? Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 2004? It would take some additional pieces, but it's an intriguing possibility to start.

He set career highs with 68 assists and 91 points in 2005-06, parlaying that into a five-year, $39 million contract. Though he had a personal best 25 goals last season, he slumped with 45 assists. In 52 games this season -- 16 goals and 29 assists, good for fourth behind Vinny, Marty and Vaclav Prospal.

His biggest shortcoming, though, is defense. Since the start of least season, he's minus-45 and that includes a league-low minus-26 in 2007-08. Going from the outhouse to the penthouse in the Eastern Conference would help those stats.


1. Mike Knuble, Philadelphia Flyers: After 706 career games, Knuble recorded his first hat trick in the Flyers' 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Knuble, who broke into the league in 1996-97 with the Detroit Red Wings, needs one goal to reach 20 for the fifth straight season.

2. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins: With Sidney Crosby still out, Malkin continues to pick up the slack, registering a goal and two assists as Pittsburgh scores four times in the third period to deefat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Since Crosby's injury on Jan. 18, Malkin has five goals and four assists in six games.

3. Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta Thrashers: The second overall pick in 2002 stopped 36 shots for his third shutout this season and 10th of his career in the Thrashers' 2-0 win over the Washington Capitals. Lehtonen denied Alexander Ovechkin -- the league's leading goal-scorer -- seven times.

1 comment:

The Girl in Black said...

Reddi-Whip's bad for your diet. Bad Igor!