Anderson's got some game

Senators goaltender Craig Anderson watches the puck during a game against the Maple Leafs at the...

Senators goaltender Craig Anderson watches the puck during a game against the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 8, 2011. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:20 AM ET

OTTAWA - The fact his wife Nicole and newborn son Jake are living in Ottawa with him this season will mean only a slight tinkering in the pre-game routine for Craig Anderson.

Mostly, his thumbs won’t get their usual warmup.

“There will be a whole lot less video games being played,” chuckled Anderson, the Senators’ No. 1 goalie. “Whatever time I had sectioned off for video games before I take a nap on game days is now going to be my time to spend with the family, before I shut down for a couple of hours.

“I had a couple of exhibitions to get the routine down. Overall, it hasn’t really changed much. The wife has been great, she’s the one that gets up every night, allows me to sleep and do my job.”

When Anderson was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche last February, Nicole was pregnant with their first child. Instead of moving to Ottawa with her masked man and being alone while he was on road trips, she headed to Florida to be with her family.

Meanwhile, in between compiling an 11-5-1 record, 2.05 G.A.A., .939 save percentage and giving the Senators some much-needed stability between the pipes, “Andy” passed away some hours honing his Call of Duty and Gran Turismo skills.

“I’ll bring my Playstation on the road more now, get my fix there,” he said.

You can be sure there will be no objections from Paul MacLean, especially if Anderson is able to continue tending goal like he did last season.

As he starts his career as a NHL head coach, MacLean will hitch his wagon firmly to Anderson, who could play 70 games or more this season. MacLean didn’t know Anderson personally before he arrived in Ottawa — but he did know he was good at his job.

“He doesn’t appear to be a loud, outspoken person, but he certainly is not afraid to speak when given the opportunity, about input on defensive zone play and penalty killing type things,” said MacLean. “He’s been very helpful in volunteering what he would like to see. So far, he’s been a great guy.

“I think he’s very professional in his approach, which isn’t different from a lot of goaltenders around,” added MacLean, who has worked with some greats. “He’s not Dom (Hasek), but they are all a little bit different. Curtis Joseph was a little bit different, Dom’s a little bit different, (J.S.) Giguere is a little different. They’ve all have their own personality and what they did. But the one thing about them all is they’re all professional. and they all come to work every day.”

And now, Anderson has someone to go home to. Talking about Jake’s birth in July still brings a huge grin to his face.

“I was in the room, I was holding my wife’s hand,” he said. “It’s just a great experience that I don’t think anyone should ever miss, especially the first one. It’s one of those things that’s an amazing event.”

The Andersons are now renting in Stittsville, a short drive to Scotiabank Place. They’ll decide during the season if they want to remain in that house or relocate to another area, but Anderson is reluctant to buy a home here.

“We’re pretty much destined to be in Florida when we’re done,” he said. “So much stuff can happen in this game where you don’t know where you’re going to be from time to time. Once you get settled, that’s the time you get moved. You almost don’t want to do it just for superstition reasons.”

At the age of 30, Anderson doesn’t want this four-year, $12.75 million contract to be his last. And he believes he’ll only get better with age.

“I think Dwayne Roloson is what, 42 years old now? So I’ve got about 12 years of improving to do,” he said. “I think with age, you just get smarter. I don’t think you’re as quick as you are when you’re 19 or 20, but you’re stronger, you’re older, you’re more mature. You understand what it takes to be a pro, and so much of the game is mental.

“When I played with Eddie Belfour, he wasn’t in the best shape of his career. But he understood the game so well mentally, he outsmarted everybody. There’s always room to grow that way. There’s still quite a few years to go, and I’m looking forward to playing as long as I can.

“My wife told me I’m not allowed to quit until I’m Dwayne’s age,” he added, laughing. “You know what, just wait and see how things go. Everything happens for a reason. It’s just a matter of when you’re mind and body call it quits.

“Right now I’m looking forward to getting through one game at a time. After these four years, who knows?”

His short term plan, however, is simple.

“(To) give the team a chance to win,” he said. “Make sure I just go in there and gain the confidence of the teammates by working hard, battling to the end, making sure they know that if they make a mistake, they know there’s going to be an opportunity for me to make the save.”

And then after the game, if the family is asleep, maybe slip in a little time on the PS3.


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