Gerber grateful for any start

DON BRENNAN

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

CHICAGO -- For backup Martin Gerber, at least the wait between starts is getting shorter.

He'll get the chance to win his eighth in a row this afternoon against a Blackhawks team that has scored an NHL-low 158 goals through 65 games.

It'll be Gerber's second start in four games which -- aside from the back-to-back-to-back action he had when Ray Emery was suspended -- represents the busiest he's been since early December.

Gerber hasn't allowed four goals in a game since Dec. 10 in Columbus, and before that the five he surrendered Nov. 13 to Montreal.

It's true Bryan Murray has given him the softer opponents (with the exception of a shot at his old Carolina teammates) since yanking Gerber after he allowed four goals on 13 Blue Jackets shots three months ago. And it's true Gerber has at times looked shaky in victory -- whether by sliding himself out of position, giving up big rebounds or having trouble seeing and covering loose pucks.

But he has been allowing fewer goals than the goalie at the other end of the ice, which is all that really matters.

Is it frustrating when you're not rewarded for a productive bottom line?

"That's the way it is right now," said Gerber, who is now 12-9-2 with a 2.88 GAA and a .904 save percentage. "There's no need and it doesn't make sense to talk about it or think too much about it. I've just got to be ready. Of course I want to play as much as possible, but I just have to wait for my opportunity."

Gerber, who was the Senators' No. 1 'tender for the first six weeks of the season, has publicly maintained a good attitude through what must be a disappointing time.

"All it's about is the race for a playoff spot ... getting into the playoffs and get yourself in as good a position as possible," he said. "That's all it's about.

"It builds up the confidence for sure, when you're successful, but it's also about the way the team played. It gives confidence to everybody. There are things we have to adjust here and there, but the main thing is we feel comfortable as a team."

And for that, the team has to feel comfortable with its backup goalie.

BY THE NUMBERS: Say this for Oleg Saprykin -- through two games as a Senator, he certainly has not made a spectacle of himself. Playing right wing on the fourth line, he has had 19 shifts covering 15:47 of ice time. He has neither a goal or an assist and has but a single shot on net. He has also recorded just one hit, one blocked shot and one takeaway. So much for the surge of energy a guy brings with him to a new team. "He is what he is," said Murray, who has played Saprykin with Christoph Schubert and Dean McAmmond. "He's just a player, a hard working guy. He's going to play on that line and when I get to know him a little better, and he gets to know how we're playing, he might get a chance to move with somebody else. But for now, in all likelihood we're going to keep that line together." ... Murray did acknowledge he has to get healthy scratch Patrick Eaves back in the lineup soon. He contemplated making a change for today's game that might include putting Schubert back on the blue line and scratching one of the defencemen, but then said he will likely opt for status quo. Schubert and newly acquired insurance policy Lawrence Nycholat formed a defensive pairing in yesterday's practice. "I had Schubie on the blue line because we're going to have to use him a few games back there before the playoffs, to get him acclimatized in case we need him," said Murray ... Mike Comrie figures he lost five or six pounds with the flu that pretty much kept him from eating for three days last week. He says he's just now getting his energy back.

THIS AND THAT: Since Dec. 23, the Senators have the best record in hockey. Yet heading into last night's night play, they still trailed the Northeast Division-leading Sabres by 11 points ... After yesterday's practice, the Senators stood outside for 20 minutes or so and watched as their bus and the bus carrying their entourage tried to get untracked in an icy parking lot. When the first bus tried to give the other a "nudge" to get it going, both became immobilized ... Stat of the Day: The Wade Redden-Andrej Meszaros defensive pairing is a combined minus-11 on the season, while the Chris Phillips-Anton Volchenkov tandem is a plus-45.


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