Sens' Anderson hopes to prove experts wrong
Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency
|Senators goaltender Craig Anderson practices with the team in Ottawa on October 1, 2011. (ERROL MCGIHON/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - Craig Anderson has seen the pre-season predictions that say the Senators will stink.
The Senators goalie would like to prove a few of the experts wrong as the club prepares to open the season Friday in Detroit.
Expectations have rarely been lower than they are for the Senators now. In many corners of the hockey world, they’ve been picked to finish last in the East.
While with Colorado in 2009-10, Anderson, 30, faced a similar situation with a young team. The Avalanche were picked to be the worst team in the Western Conference and went on to grab a playoff spot.
“It’s hard to compare: Different city, different players and different team, but at the end of the day the experts were wrong (about Colorado),” said Anderson. “Obviously, if we finish anything better than 15th, you guys will be happy.
“When you’re not expected to do anything, you play loose. When you’re expected to finish at the top of your division, there are expectations there. When things don’t go your way, and you’re supposed to be a top-ranked team, you could slide sideways and go downhill.
“When you’re on the bottom, working your way up, it’s just a constant grind. You play loose. You’ve got nothing to lose.”
Anderson played 71 games for the Avs that season. He finished with a 38-25-7 record and .917 save percentage. If the Senators are going to have any chance, he must post similar numbers.
The Senators caught a glimpse of Anderson at his best in a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in the club’s final exhibition tuneup Thursday. He made 39 saves and was the game’s first star.
“We have no business winning that game unless he makes those saves,” said centre Jason Spezza. “Goaltending like that just gives you a chance to hang around. You’re not always going to show up with your best game.
“A guy like that can settle things down, make big saves and, all of a sudden, we take the momentum and win the game. Andy makes the big saves to give us confidence.”
Anderson, who had an 11-5-1 record and a sparking .939 save-percentage in 16 games with the Senators last season, has no issue with facing a lot of shots.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s still 60 minutes of concentration,” said Anderson. “When you have a bunch of shots, you get a good feeling for it. When you’re standing around a lot and you don’t get a lot of shots, it’s a different game.
“Not everybody can see 40 shots. Not a lot of goalies can play when they only see 15 or 20. You have to adjust your game and the goalies who adjust the best are the ones that come out on top.”
Anderson said he can’t — and doesn’t expect to — do it all by himself. The Senators want to support him.
“You don’t win without the goaltender making big saves,” said coach Paul MacLean. “Goaltending is a leadership position and the team can take an awful lot of confidence from the goaltender.”