The Ottawa Senators’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy was revealed Monday and the name should surprise no one.
Goaltender Craig Anderson was selected by the Ottawa chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association as the team’s 2016-17 choice for the award recognizing perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
Anderson’s family situation – coupled with his superb play – has been one of the most impactful stories this season.
Anderson has taken multiple leaves from the Senators to be with his wife, Nicholle, who was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer in late-October.
When he initially left the Senators, they were on a western Canada road trip and netminder Andrew Hammond quickly sustained a groin injury. Nicholle urged her husband to rejoin his teammates.
His first start upon his return was 37-save shutout in Edmonton on Oct. 30. Anderson was named first star and received a standing ovation from the fans at Rogers Place as tears flowed under his mask. Oilers counterpart Cam Talbot stood on the bench and showed his respect during Anderson’s curtain call.
Anderson also opted to leave the team in early-December to be by Nicholle’s side as underwent cancer treatment at a New York facility. He returned to the Senators on Feb. 11.
Through it all, the 25-year-old has posted impressive numbers – a 22-10-2 record with a 2.32 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and four shutouts. He also moved into first place on the club’s goaltending wins list, surpassing Patrick Lalime (146) with a 4-2 over the Colorado Avalanche on March 11. He played his 500th NHL game last Saturday, too.
The Senators (41-25-8) are in second place in the Atlantic Division with 90 points, three back of the Montreal Canadiens. Ottawa has a game in hand.
It’s worth noting, the performance of backup Mike Condon in the Senators’ success when Anderson was away. Condon, 26, is 19-12-6 with a 2.47 GAA, .916 save percentage and five shutouts this season.