NEW YORK — Craig Anderson is ready to return under the bright lights in the big city.
Healthy and rested after spending the past three games as a spectator due an undisclosed lower-body ailment, Anderson should be ready to play Thursday against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Armed with a new four-year, $12.75-million contract extension, Anderson was on the ice for practice Wednesday at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan and declared afterward the injury has had enough rest.
“I’ve had a couple of good days of practice to get back into it and get the timing back and kind of test everything out. Everything is feeling pretty good,” said Anderson, who did dress as a backup and could have played if necessary.
“There wasn’t any reason to push it and risk making (the injury) worse. It was just a matter of making sure that it continued to get better. I just wanted to make sure that it was 100% before I went back in there.”
This will be the first time Anderson has returned to the net since he signed the extension. He’s had a few days to digest everything that’s happened over the past couple of days and is pleased with the decision.
With wife Nicole expecting the couple’s first child in the off-season, he’s happy to know he’s not going to spend the summer wondering what he might be doing next season. Instead, he can focus on playing in Ottawa.
“It’s settled down now. Knowing where I’m going to be playing is definitely a huge weight off the chest,” said Anderson. “I think there’s a lot of times where the unknown is kind of scary.
“You get that (contract) out of the way. Now, we can start to put pieces in place, start to make plans for me and my wife. Just knowing what the road is will definitely make life easier.”
Anderson said he wasn’t surprised how quickly agent Justin Duberman was able to get the deal done with GM Bryan Murray.
“I was kind of left out of most of it,” said Anderson. “My job is to stop the hockey puck and let my agent and Mr. Murray take care of whatever has to be taken care of off the ice. That’s out of my control. I’m just thankful that something got done.”
Anderson is well aware he has committed to a job where many have failed before him. He knows the pressure that goes with the position in Ottawa.
“There’s pressure in every job in the NHL,” he said. “Obviously, goaltender is a tough spot. You’re always looked upon. The red light goes on when you make a mistake. When a forward makes a mistake, someone may not pick up on it.
“When things are good, things are good. But, when things start to go a little south, there’s some hockey-knowledgeable people (in Ottawa) and they want a winning team. The first thing they look to is for the goalie to do what Cam Ward did (Tuesday) night and steal wins.”