Sens' Preissing big plus, sort of

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

The Senators are a .500 team and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference 35 games into the season, Martin Gerber is still looking for his first home win as Christmas approaches and Tom Preissing has been a better off-season addition than Chris Pronger in Anaheim.

Who'd have thunk any of it?

Okay, so the above claim of Preissing is a tad misleading.

He's been a better plus than Pronger. Or anybody else in the NHL for that matter.

Heading into last night's games, the 28-year-old former San Jose Sharks defenceman topped the league's plus-minus category at plus-23. Just behind Preissing was some pretty exclusive company: Nicklas Lidstrom at plus-21, Pronger at plus-19 and Teemu Selanne at plus-18.

Judging by ice time allotment, the Senators coaching staff sees Preissing as the team's fifth-best blueliner at an average of 14:31 per game, with Christoph Schubert (11:43) closing the gap. So how is it that nobody in the NHL is better at being on for more even-strength goals for than against?

"We were talking about that this morning," said coach Bryan Murray. "He's just a great player, I guess. I can't explain it. It tells you a lot about the plus-minus (stat)."

Murray did point out that Preissing, who is on the third pairing with Schubert, plays against the opposition's third and fourth lines a lot more often than its first and second units. While Andrej Meszaros and Joe Corvo are minus-9, Chris Phillips even, Anton Volchenkov plus-2 and Wade Redden plus-4, Schubert has the second best mark on the team at plus-13.

Even the current King himself has has a hard time understanding how he wound up in possession of the crown.

"I think it's just a matter of being on the ice at the right time," said Preissing, the day after he and Schubert wound up plus-2 in a 7-2 pasting by the Bruins. "The mistakes that we do make, either the other team is not able to bury it or the goaltender makes a big save.

"I don't have anything good for you (reason-wise). It just seems that every time we step on the ice we get a plus."

If only the game was so simple.

REDDEN WATCH: While D Wade Redden will make a decision after the morning skate on whether he'll play tonight against the visiting Bolts, he says the chest injury he sustained against Florida on Nov. 30 is not taking longer to heal than expected. "I think we're right on track," Redden, who has missed the last nine games, explained after yesterday's practice. "They said 2-6 weeks at the time, and it will be exactly three (today). I don't think it will be six by any means, but whether it's (tonight) or I have to wait a couple of more days, we'll just have to see. But it's not like we're scratching our heads trying to figure out what's taking so long. We're right where we should be."

STANDING PAT: Winger Patrick Eaves says his intentions were pure when he ran into Boston's Marc Savard along the boards Tuesday. "I just thought I was finishing my check," said Eaves, who was given an elbowing major and game misconduct on the play. "I didn't mean to hurt him, and I thought I saw him (playing again) later in the game. It was just a hit ... maybe it looked funny to the ref and that's why he called what he did. But it's part of the game. You move on."

THE CORVO CURVE: After a solid start, the play of D Joe Corvo has dropped in recent weeks. The last seven games shows Corvo a minus-7 and with just one assist. "Joe just tries to do too much," said Murray. "He tries to do more than his own job." Corvo admits he's "not pleased with the lack of consistency. That would be what I care about ... I couldn't care less about the points as long as we're winning games."


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