January 14, 2012
Senators lean on workhorseAnderson to make eighth straight start with no rest in sight
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
MONTREAL - Craig Anderson is a busy man and it’s going to stay that way.
The Senators goaltender will his make league-leading 41st appearance this season — in the club’s 46th game — Saturday against the Canadiens. It will mark his eighth straight start and the ninth time he’s played since a 4-3 victory over Calgary on Dec. 30.
Anderson has a 7-0-1 record over the stretch, and is coming off a 34-save performance in a 3-0 win against the Rangers Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Coach Paul MacLean has no interest in giving him a rest anytime soon.
“Not at this point,” said MacLean when asked Friday if he was worried about playing Anderson too much. “He’s played really well and his history is to play lots of games. At this point, he’s playing well and we’re just going to keep playing him.”
It doesn’t make any sense to sit him, right?
Anderson is on pace to play 70 games — something that doesn’t bother MacLean.
“I’m not sure it doesn’t make any sense,” said MacLean. “We can study it a lot of ways and say we should manage (his playing time) and do this and that.
“From my point of view, his history is to play 65-to-70-plus games, so why would we make it different this year?”
The Senators are seeing Anderson at his best right now and he’s a big reason why they are fifth in the East, battling for a playoff spot and surprising pundits who picked them to finish in last place.
Though Anderson had a difficult time in October, he has bounced back. He picked up his 22nd win of the season against the Rangers and his stats are slowly getting better as the Senators improve.
“I just take it one game at time right now,” said Anderson. “We’re finding ways to win games. That’s really all that matters. I just want to give the team a chance to win.
“That’s kind of been my mentality all year: Do whatever it takes to make sure the team has got an opportunity to make a push at the end or solidfy the win.”
Anderson said he doesn’t get caught up in the numbers — good or bad — other than the win column.
If those keep rising at the current pace, there’ll be playoff hockey at Scotiabank Place this spring.
“There’s going to be some stretches where you have some really good numbers and there’s going to be some stretches where you don’t,” said Anderson. “At the end of the year, they kind of all average themselves out.
“The main important statistic is wins. You want to make sure that we keep climbing in the standings and if you get yourself into the playoffs, more times than not, the other statistics take care of themselves. The (GAA) and save percentage get swept under the rug when things are going well. They get blown out of proportion when things aren’t going the way you want.”
The players appreciate Anderson’s effort.
“We’ve felt good about him all year long,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “He’s been the same as everybody else: He’s had good and not so good games. Overall, he’s been really consistent making big saves when we need them.
“Lately, he’s been unbelievable. You can’t expect that every night, but he’s definitely helped us go on this run.”
The Senators have to stick with the hot hand.