There will be a familiar face in the opposing net when the Ottawa Senators take on the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Place Friday night.
Ray Emery, who helped lead the team to the 2007 Stanley Cup final, will make his first appearance in Ottawa’s rink since he left the city in a cloud of controversy four years ago.
After the Senators bought out Emery’s contract after a stretch of bad play and bad press, he went to the KHL to try and rediscover his game. He did, parlaying it into contracts with the Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and now the Blackhawks.
His former teammates said Friday they were happy to see him back in the league and doing well.
Chris Neil said Emery was a big part of that run to the Cup and that fans have good memories of that time.
“He’s turned his life and his career around,” Neil said, also referencing a painful him injury that almost ended Emery’s career. “Obviously his injury, he was able to battle back through it and it was kind of a feel good story.”
The Blackhawks would feel good if one of their goaltenders grabbed the opportunity to lead their team. Second-year starter Cory Crawford is struggling, giving Emery an opportunity to turn some heads.
He is 12-8-2 this season with a 2.72 goal-against average and .905 save percentage.
The Senators will go with Robin Lehner (3-0-0), who is coming off his first career shutout.
Emery aside, Neil said the Senators have to focus on their own game.
“The biggest thing, it isn’t about Ray tonight, it’s about us,” he said. “We’re playing to still climb the ladder and it’s a big two points for us.”
After a few setbacks in his recovery from a concussion, centre Jesse Winchester was back on the ice with his teammates for the morning skate.
Still no word on when he might return, but it was a good sign that he was able to take part in the morning skate.
“(It’s a) significant change, in that he was in a white jersey and leading the stretch, so that would mean that he’s made some progress,” coach Paul MacLean said.
“I don’t think he’s done a (concussion) baseline test yet or anything like that, but obviously it’s significant that he’s out there with us.
“He had a good day yesterday and I guess he came in today and was feeling real good, so rather than have him skate by himself, we said you may as well come out with the team for the pre-game skate.