|Ottawa Senators defenceman Tom Preissing is the NHL leader with a +23 plus-minus rating.|
by Todd Anderson
When you look at the NHL plus-minus standings today, you will find Ottawa Senators defenceman Tom Preissing listed in first place, a few points ahead of all-stars including Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger and Teemu Selanne, among others. Preissing humbly downplays his ranking.
"I think it's just a matter of being on the ice at the right time," the Arlington Heights, Ill., native says. "With the mistakes we do make, the other team just isn't able to bury them, or our goalies are coming up big for us."
Still, the first-year Senator says a new comfort level has been reached since he began playing regularly with defensive partner Christoph Schubert, and his performance has improved because of it.
"I think Schubie and I are limiting the other teams' opportunities," Preissing says. "On the ice, I think I started off a little slow but lately I've been playing pretty well. At the start of the year, with our injuries, it was hard to get into a groove. I played with Volchie (Anton Volchenkov) and (Chris) Phillips for a while. To be able to play (regularly) with the same guy helps. It seems like every time we go on the ice, we get a plus."
Schubert boasts Ottawa's second-best plus-minus rating at +13.
The Senators have had success in the stat category over the previous two seasons as well. Last season Senators defenceman Wade Redden finished tied for first in the NHL with New York Ranger Michal Roszival at +35. Andrej Meszaros finished tied for second at +34.
In 2003-04, former Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara finished third in the NHL at +33.
Neil and Volchenkov also league leaders
While Preissing stands atop the NHL plus-minus ratings, Volchenkov and forward Chris Neil also lead in two other categories.
Volchenkov has 119 blocked shots in 33 games this season, 20 more than Atlanta Thrasher Greg De Vries, a former Senator who is in second place.
With 134 hits, Neil is the clear leader in the NHL. New York Ranger Ryan Hollweg is second with 109 and Senators teammate Mike Fisher is third with 107.