OTTAWA - Might as well kick things off with a bold prediction: The Senators will qualify for the 2011-2012 playoffs.
If Craig Anderson has a Tim Thomas-like season, that is.
For his part, Anderson believes it’s possible.
At least, that’s the Ottawa goalie’s goal.
“Very few guys can string together 50-60 games the way Tim Thomas did last year,” Anderson said before Wednesday’s first home pre-season game against the Thomas-less Bruins. “He was absolutely unbelievable. You have a .935, .940 save percentage all year round, which is very accomplishable in a 10-15 game span, but to do it over 50-60 games like he did was unbelievable.
“For me, that’s kind of a goal. If he can do it, why not me, or why not anyone else in the league?”
Of course, Thomas was on what would prove to be the best team in the NHL. Anderson will stand behind a lineup that figures to lack scoring punch and be rife with very young players.
Realistically, he won’t come close to the 35-11-9 record, the 2.00 GAA and the .938 save percentage Thomas had before cranking up his game (16-9-0, 1.98 GAA, .940 save percentage) to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and lead the Bruins to the championship. And the Senators don’t expect him to. They just need Anderson to be consistent.
And that’s what he expects of himself.
“There’s going to be nights you’re not your best and you’ve got to rebound off of that,” said Anderson, who was 11-5-1 (2.05 GAA, .939 save percentage) after coming to Ottawa in a trade with Colorado last February. “The more consistent your game play can be, the more confidence you can build for your teammates.
“The easiest thing for me to do is just communicate. Let these guys know how much time they have to make a play. They’re all good players. They didn’t get here by being bad players.”
Anderson played 30:27 of Wednesday’s game before giving way to Alex Auld. He faced just five shots in the first period and six more before exiting.
The numbers mean nothing to Anderson at this time of year.
“It’s just a matter of getting comfortable out there,” he said. “I think we all remember Carey Price last exhibition ... He came out kind of flat, didn’t have a good couple of games in pre-season, but he was lights out come regular season. he was one of their best players. It’s just a matter of getting a good feel for it and getting into the swing of things and making sure you use the pre-season games to get yourself ready for the regular season.”
THINGS I THINK I THUNK
Don’t remember anthem singer Lyndon Slewidge getting the whistles that Tammy Laverty received as his fill-in Wednesday. Of course, that tight Senators dress would not work on Lyndon, who will be back for the start of the season ... A new season, same old crappy videoboard ... Those Golden Palace egg rolls are more popular than the Senators thought. They were sold out at the start of the second period ... Gotta look for things to like in this Ottawa team. Me, I like Kaspars Daugavans. Partly because I like saying his name ... Mark Borowiecki, the Kanata product who is making a Mark for himself with management, is also picking up a few on his face. He’s wearing nine stitches bringing together gashes over his right eye and on his nose. “Two separate (incidents). One in rookie tournament, one the first day of practice,” said Borowiecki, who was thrilled to be playing his first NHL game in his hometown. “Definitely worth it to be here.” ... There were a lot of empty seats for the first game, especially with the B’s in town. However, Chris Phillips doesn’t think attendance will be a problem in this rebuilding year. “True hockey fans aren’t going to just sit at home and wait for things to turn around,” he said. “They’ll be here to cheer us on. I think they know the situation and I think their expectations are the same as ours, to go out and work hard every night, outwork the other team.” ... Didn’t take the Senators long (first period) to pick up their first too-many-men penalty. Didn’t Cory Clouston lead the league in those last season?
HOW TWEET IT IS FOR SENS
In an era when players (Mike Modano) are announcing the end of a brilliant career on Facebook and Twitter, we can tell you that 10 Senators/Ottawa prospects are tweeters. They are Mika Zibanejad (@mikazibanejad), Matt Stone (@M_Stoner16), Mark Borowiecki (@TheBoroCop), Jim O’Brien (@Jimmy_OB), Derek Grant (@DGrant27), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (@JGPageau), Mike McKenna (@MikeMcKenna56), Louie Caporusso (@caporusso89), Corey Cowick (@ccows) and Chris Wideman (@Chris_Wideman). “It’s really good for the fans, and it’s good for me to get to know them a little better,” said Zibanejad, who started an account on a suggestion from his cousin.
“He’s got a couple of pounds on me. As long as we’re not walking around with our shirts off, we should be interchangeable.”
— Goalie Craig Anderson, who says he was actually mistaken for Alex Auld by a Senators fan.