Tuesday return for Anderson?

Senators goaltender Craig Anderson during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., March 15,...

Senators goaltender Craig Anderson during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., March 15, 2012. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 PM ET

OTTAWA - Craig Anderson is getting the itch to play again.

The Senators goaltender, who severed a tendon in his finger in a kitchen accident, took another big step on the road to a return by stopping shots with his blocker during a 32-minute practice at Scotiabank Place Thursday.

While goalie Ben Bishop was given the day off and will start Friday against the Montreal Canadiens at home, Anderson is encouraged he was able to make it through the skate, but still can’t predict when he might play.

“(Friday) is too early, for sure,” said Anderson, who had surgery after cutting his hand with an ice pick trying to separate chicken. “This is the first day I’m seeing practice with the guys (and) I wouldn’t want to put that on the team after only practising once with them after sitting for three weeks.

“You need more than just one day of practice to get back into the rhythm of NHL speed and shots.

“It feels good to be with the guys and be part of the team. It was an uplifting experience to get out there and stop some shots instead of just having a coach shoot on you. It’s getting there. Every day it’s a process, getting better and better. As long as you keep getting better, that’s all that really matters.”

With the Toronto Maple Leafs in town Saturday, coach Paul MacLean said he doesn’t expect Anderson to play in either game.

“I was buoyed by the fact he was on the ice for the practice,” said MacLean. “He looked like he enjoyed it, so it was a really good sign. We’ll have to see how he reacts to being on the ice for a 32-minute practice.

“Of the 11 games we have left, we’d like to get him in as many as he can get in.”

Centre Jason Spezza said it’s a good sign.

“It’s nice to see (Anderson) back. I’m sure he’s encouraged to be back out there,” said Spezza.

“Any time you’re away from the boys, it’s tough, so for him to get back out there ... mentally, it’s a big hurdle for him to get over, to be around the guys and to get out there in your full gear and take some shots. He looked pretty good to me and it’s a step in the right direction.”

While the date of the return is up in the air, it seems like Tuesday vs. New Jersey is a strong bet.

“I don’t want to start speculating,” said Anderson. “I just don’t know how it’s going to feel (Friday). It’s getting a lot better every day, but to say it’s going to be 100% two days from now, I can’t really say that.

“Every day is a real process and every day ... as long as we keep getting better, that’s all that really matters. We’ll just have to wait and see how much better it gets (Friday).”


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