February 24, 2012
Anderson cuts hand, could miss eight weeksLehner expected to be recalled; Murray faces deadline decision
By BRUCE GARRIOCH and DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - A gash to Craig Anderson’s right hand threatens to put a huge slice in the Senators’ playoff hopes.
GM Bryan Murray could be forced to go shopping for a goalie — with Monday’s trade deadline fast approaching — after the club’s No. 1 netminder suffered a serious cut while preparing food at his home late Wednesday following a victory over the Washington Capitals.
While the Senators confirmed Anderson is out “indefinitely” but is expected to make a full recovery, sources told the Ottawa Sun he’ll be gone 10 days and possibly more, and has to be examined by a specialist. A source said the worst-case scenario for this type of injury is 6-8 weeks.
A source said surgery was required on the 30-year-old Anderson, who was still in hospital Thursday. He was supposed to sign autographs at an Orleans car dealership Thursday night and didn’t show. The Senators are expected to recall goalie Robin Lehner from their AHL affiliate in Binghamton in time for practice Friday in Ottawa.
Losing Anderson is a massive blow.
One of the NHL’s busiest goalies, he has played in 27 of the club’s past 28 games and 56 overall. A major part of the Senators’ success, Anderson has a 29-19-6 record with a 2.86 GAA and .913 save percentage. He’s also coming off a 32-save performance in the 5-2 victory over the Capitals.
Backup Alex Auld, meanwhile, has started just seven games this season, going 2-3-2 with a 3.28 GAA and a .883 save percentage.
Lehner’s numbers with a young Binghamton team haven’t been sparkling, either. After helping the Baby Sens win the Calder Cup last spring, Lehner is 8-16-1 this season with 3.38 GAA and .905 save percentage.
As the Senators prepare to face the Boston Bruins Saturday at home, Murray has to decide whether he’ll go get another goalie as insurance or stick it out with Auld and Lehner until Anderson is ready to return.
But the goalie market is thin.
Pending unrestricted free agent Evgeni Nabokov, an obvious target for Ottawa, has held talks on a contract extension and is expected to remain with the New York Islanders.
The Minnesota Wild have been listening to offers for backup Josh Harding. Detroit’s Ty Conklin cleared waivers last week. The San Jose Sharks will put veteran goalie Antero Niittymaki on re-entry waivers before the deadline to see if the Senators, Leafs or anybody else looking for goaltending will make a claim. He is making $2 million and will be available at half of his salary. Other than veteran Dwayne Roloson, there’s not much goaltending help to be had.
Plus, there’s an increased demand for goalies because Toronto GM Brian Burke has admitted he could have to find help for James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson to ensure the Maple Leafs make the playoffs.
“The question is: Does this force Ottawa to get into the goalie pool?” asked former NHL goalie Greg Millen, an analyst on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. “And, if that’s the case, are there any goalies available?
“Only they know the extent of the injury, and the exact time frame, then they’re going to have to make a decision as an organization whether they have to get into the goalie pool or not.
“They could go with the young kid (Lehner), but that’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid at this time of year, especially going down the stretch. If they do decide to look, there’s a lot of teams trying to get goalies and there’s hardly any out there. That’s pretty challenging.”
Millen said not knowing the severity of the injury, he’s not sure if Anderson could play with a cut to his blocker hand.
“I don’t want to play doctor because I don’t know how serious it is,” said Millen.