In the NHL, there are some players that just never end up getting the recognition or the attention they deserve due to the growing number of stars in the game.
One of these guys has always been Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson. Whether it was as a backup netminder with the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers or as a starter with the Colorado Avalanche and now the Senators, Anderson has always flown under everyone’s radar.
In this shortened season, however, Anderson might finally be turning some heads with his strong play in net so far. Anderson has won the three games he has started, has posted a shutout, and has stopped 81 of the 83 shots he has faced. His goals-against-average is a silly-good 0.67.
Yes, there will be those that point out that Anderson faced the likes of the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers, both of which do not have high-powered offences. That said, Anderson has done his job by stopping the shots he should, making things easier for the guys playing behind him and playing within himself.
After Tuesday night’s 4-0 win over the Panthers, Senators bench boss Paul MacLean had high praise for his starting netminder when speaking with the Canadian Press.
“Craig has certainly showed that he’s prepared to play and he’s put in the work necessary to be ready to go and that’s the kind of quality goaltending we expect from him,” said MacLean.
Last season, Anderson won 33 games in the regular season and got his team to within one game of advancing to the second round in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 31-year-old netminder, however, told reporters after Tuesday’s night tilt that he knows that he still needs to do the little things every day to help improve his craft.
“I have to get out there and battle hard in practice and show the players that I’m ready to play,” Anderson said.
Coming into this season, there was a logjam at the goaltending position in Ottawa. The team had Anderson along with Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner, who going into training camp in January were two of the top goaltenders in the AHL with the Senators’ farm team.
In Bishop and Lehner, the Senators have two high-quality goaltenders who are both NHL ready. They are both young, have had success in the AHL and are more than ready to man the pipes in the NHL.
While these facts would certainly put pressure on any starting goaltender in the league, Anderson approached the situation the right way. He has worked hard in practice and went into the season knowing what he wanted to accomplish and how he was going achieve that and is now playing with a ton of confidence.
Anderson told Lisa Wallace of The Canadian Press that whether there are three goalies or just two, the pressure will always be the same.
"There’s always going to be pressure, whether there are three guys, four guys or two guys," Anderson said. "At the end of the day you have to go out and perform on the ice and my job is to go out there and give the team the opportunity to win and as long as I do my job and be positive and continue to get better I’ve got nothing to worry about."
In his first three games, Anderson has more than just gotten the job done for his hockey club. He has shown both the team and more importantly, the club’s head coach, that he is ready to carry the load once again.
“Craig’s our No. 1 goaltender," MacLean said, "and we have to get him into the games and he’s the best guy.”