With a win and a loss through the first two games of the regular season, fans and media in the nation's capital are already whispering about a goaltending controversy with the Ottawa Senators.
The proof was in the pudding over the weekend when incumbent netminder Martin Gerber allowed a couple of questionable goals in Ottawa's 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. By contrast, partner Alex Auld was almost perfect, shutting down the Penguins' offence for all but two seconds of regulation time in a 3-1 victory.
While many fans and pundits predict that the two games are a microchosm for the way the goaltending picture will play out this season, head coach Craig Hartsburg isn't buying in.
"It's not a controversy, really," he told reporters on Tuesday. "We brought Alex in here to be a real good goaltender and in that game he was. He's here to support and be that guy behind Martin and he'll give us quality games."
And who will be in goal against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday?
"Gerber's starting," Hartsburg said with a slight smile. "Our plan to start in Sweden was that both were going to play and obviously Alex played well. Unfortunately for Gerbs, he had a tough night but he's going to rebound for us. Martin will bounce back He's a veteran guy and we've just got to move forward."
Auld, who signed with the Senators as a free agent over the summer, was also quick to dismiss the thoughts of a goalie controversy running through the dressing room.
"That's not uncomfortable in this dressing room at all," he said. "That's stuff for fans and media to take part in. As a team we know what we're capable of, we have a lot of belief in Gerbs and what he can do and I'm just here to help."
That way of thinking should be a blessing for a Senators team that had to deal with choosing between Gerber and former No. 1 netminder Ray Emery last season. With Emery injured early last year, the Swiss goalie backstopped Ottawa to an incredible 15-2 start. Emery's return, combined with the team's struggles in front of him, saw the Sens put together a 28-29-8 finish down the stretch.
But unlike last year, both Gerber and Auld have the full confidence of their teammates.
"This is the NHL and we feel confident in both of those guys," said Heatley. "They're both NHL goalies for a reason and we're happy and confident with whoever plays."
That confidence level will be all-too important on Saturday when Gerber and the Senators play a measuring stick-game against the defending Stanley Cup champions. And Gerber knows that his partner between the pipes will be pushing him.
"(Alex) played a great game for us," he said Tuesday. "He really stood on his head and was the reason why we won. For me, I have to do a better job and push harder."