Anderson loving life as a Senator

Senators goaltender Craig Anderson takes part in practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Feb. 24,...

Senators goaltender Craig Anderson takes part in practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Feb. 24, 2011. (ERROL MCGIHON/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:53 AM ET

ATLANTA While Craig Anderson has been busy putting up some nice numbers as a Senator, he couldnt help but notice another goalie doing the same.

Yes, Antti Niemi did pretty well for himself this week when he signed a four-year, $15.2-million deal to stay on with the San Jose Sharks. Thats a salary of $3.8 million for a veteran of 85 regular-season games and 22 more in a playoff run that ended with him sipping from the Cup.

He really had a great year so far this year, and Im sure San Jose is looking for him to continue that great play into the playoffs, noted Anderson, who is eligible to test the free agent market himself July 1.

Did the Niemi deal set a mark that hell be aiming at? It is in line with the pact Jaroslav Halat inked last summer (four years, $3.75 million per) with the St. Louis Blues.

Hard to say, said Anderson. (Niemi) has 85-90 games in the league so far, plus a Cup ring, so its kind of hard to be a comparable. Ive got a few more games, but I dont have a Cup ring.

Anderson, who makes $2.12 million, believes he has rediscovered his 2009-10 form (71 GP, 38 W, 2.63 GAA, .917 save percentage) since arriving in Ottawa. In five games as a Senator, he is 3-2 with a 1.19 GAA and .963 save percentage.

The Scotiabank Place fans have noticed the improvement at the position. After a Senators debut that saw him post a 1-0 shutout at the ACC, Anderson received a loud ovation when he was introduced as the starter in his first home game.

The cheers were even louder when his face flashed on the embarrassingly puny scoreboard prior to Tuesdays game against the Bruins.

I think everybody loves goalies, Anderson said, grinning, before the teams flight to Atlanta Wednesday. Its just the nature of the business they either love you or they hate you. Its just like the guy who fights the most is a crowd favourite. Hes going to get a pretty good applause. Or the guy who scores a lot. But the guys that go unnoticed on the scoresheet, and maybe by the fans, may be your most important guys. The guys that take a hit to make a play, or make big blocks at key times of the game. Sometimes those guys are overlooked, but I think guys in here realize that, and I realize that. So I guess well take the fans applause when we can get it, but I definitely know to pass it on to the guys in front of us.

I think the opening welcome from the fans puts a smile on your face and it makes you feel good, that youve kind of arrived. For me, its just coming in here and playing the game Ive been playing since I was a kid. Let the results take care of themselves.

Anderson doesnt mind playing back-to-back games, which hell do Thursday and Friday unless Cory Clouston gives Curtis McElhinney his first start. While he admits hes had a busy schedule, Anderson also says every guy wants to play when his confidence is high.

And right now, Andersons is high.

When youre feeling good out there, you want the puck, he said, sounding a little more like a starting pitcher than a goalie. A quarterback, if hes feeling good, he wants the ball with two minutes to go, down by six points. Thats kind of the way I feel.

Sometimes when youre playing good, you dont get the result. Sometimes when youre playing bad, you get the result. Its kind of a crazy business that way.

Anderson wont tip his hand on his plans for dealing with the contract situation, but he does like what he has seen so far in Ottawa. Likes it a lot.

I guess well have to wait and see, but so far I love every situation Ive been in here, and its been just a great fit right now, he said. Its all up to both sides being happy. Its a good place to play and Im all about being happy, and putting a smile on my face and coming to the rink to have an enjoyable experience.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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