Craig Anderson arrived in Ottawa February 2011 on nothing more than the hopes that a change of scenery for the struggling goalie would help turn the direction his career was heading around. As soon as Anderson joined the Ottawa Senators he has taken the starters job and ran with it, leading the surprising Senators to a memorable 7 game series against the New York Rangers where Anderson went head to head against the reigning Vezina trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist. Though his season ended in disappointment the future is bright for the man between the pipes in Ottawa.
Craig Anderson played two seasons as the backup goalie for the Florida Panthers before finally getting his shot at a starting position with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2009-10 season. Anderson led the upstart Avalanche to an unexpected playoff berth while going 38-25-7 with a 2.6 GAA and .917 save %. The following season expectations for Craig Anderson and the Avalanche were elevated but the goalie from Illinois struggled out of the gate and ended up losing the starting job to Peter Budaj. Struggling and relegated to the bench it looked like Craig Anderson’s dream of being a #1 NHL goalie was fading, until the Ottawa Senators acquired him. In Ottawa Craig Anderson regained the form he showed in his first year in Colorado going 11-5-1 with an impressive 2.05 GAA and .939 save % for a struggling Senators team.
Anderson’s late season audition was all Sens GM Bryan Murray needed to see as he resigned the goalie to a four year extension that many questioned. In a city where goalies are gone in the blink of an eye it was clear Anderson could not afford another bad start to the season. When the Senators began their 2011-12 season Craig Anderson and a rejuvenated offense led the Senators to a surprisingly good first 5 months of the season. Anderson had 29 wins in 56 games before a freak cooking accident sidelined him for weeks. When Anderson returned from the injury he picked up where he left off ending the season with a 33-22-6 record with a save % of .914 and a GAA of 2.84. Ottawa surprised many by qualifying for the post season as the 8th seed in a season when many analysts picked them to finish last in the Eastern Conference.
Making the playoffs was an accomplishment in its own right but Anderson wasn’t done there, he went save for save against Henrik Lundqvist and pushed the #1 seeded Rangers to game 7 where Ottawa lost 2-1. Anderson stepped his game up in the playoffs and despite losing posted a .933 save % and a 2.00 GAA. Though Craig Anderson enters the upcoming season as Ottawa’s #1 goalie he knows he cannot rest on his laurels as newly acquired Ben Bishop and top prospect Robin Lehner are waiting in the wings for their shot at the #1 position.
Ever since the last lockout there has been a revolving door for Senators goalies with none being able to consistently produce from season to season. Craig Anderson has certainly had some ups and downs in his career as every goalie in the NHL does. Like it or not though Craig Anderson is making a pretty strong case for sticking around as the go to guy in Ottawa, just don’t let him cook.
Creator of the Bettman Stand Up hockey blog. I cover the Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers, In Hossa we trust! I also write for publications such as Arbitrage Magazine and Elite Sports Blog. You can follow me on Twitter @RickEmrith