Forget the past and preach the positive.
That’s the approach Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson is taking as he returns to the net Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Hurricanes at Scotiabank Place.
After giving up four goals on eight shots and receiving the quick hook from coach Paul MacLean in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Anderson is once again being given the chance to immediately redeem himself.
“You want to get back on that horse,” Anderson said following Saturday afternoon’s practice. “You want to go out there and give the guys that confidence boost. Make that save for them and give them a good game.”
MacLean is banking on Anderson bouncing back like he did the last time he was pulled early. On Nov. 5, he was yanked after giving up two early goals to the Buffalo Sabres in a 5-1 defeat, but followed that up with a season-high three-game winning streak, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
The coach acknowledges that Anderson had a rough night against Pittsburgh, but he was hardly alone.
“He was much like the rest of the team, he wasn’t ready to play,” said MacLean. “The whole team was guilty and unfortunately, a lot of times, it’s the goalie that everybody notices because the coach takes him out.”
Certainly, the four goal explosion wasn’t all Anderson’s fault — the Penguins’ first goal from Chris Kunitz came following a fantastic fake by Sidney Crosby and the third goal from Steve Sullivan deflected off Chris Phillips’ stick – but the Tyler Kennedy bank shot from behind the goal line was ugly. A day later, Anderson wasn’t hiding from it.
“They got momentum and they kept it for about six-seven minutes and they capitalized,” he said. They’ve got some good players. Obviously, I can’t be giving up goals from the corner. That’s something I’ve got to make sure I’m better at, but it’s one of those things you learn from it and move on.”
It marked the third time this season that Anderson hasn’t finished what he’s started. It’s never easy, but being a good teammate means that sometimes you have to swallow your pride.
“You don’t play this game and be glad you’re getting embarrassed,” said Anderson, who now carries a 3.46 goals against average and .889 save percentage. “You get pissed off. But at the end of the day, you take a deep breath and support your teammates. You sit on the edge of the bench and you find a way to stay involved with the game and get the guys fired up a little bit. Hopefully, the team comes by and picks you up. It’s just like a baseball player. They strike out, the next guy in the lineup is at the plate and he’s got to step up and make a hit for him.”
In that vein, Jesse Winchester is getting his chance to step up into a far bigger role. Winchester, who normally serves as a fourth line centre and top penalty killer, will start today’s game centering Daniel Alfredsson and Nick Foligno.
“I would love to bring more offence,” said Winchester, who has one goal and three assists, but has hit the post four times. “If given an opportunity, I think I can. It’s a matter of playing my game and making room for Alfie with the puck, driving hard to the net and that kind of stuff. To say I’m going to start dangling and all that stuff, no. I plan to be strong, I plan to battle for pucks and make time and space for (others).”.
Winchester’s gain is Stephane Da Costa’s loss. Da Costa continues to struggle, his ice time is dwindling (he played only 7:23 against Pittsburgh) and he’ll line up with Zenon Konopka and Bobby Butler. With Chris Neil and Peter Regin recovering from injuries, Da Costa could soon take the next step down – all the way to Binghamton.
“(Winchester) has experience in the league,” said MacLean. “Steph’s a young player and it’s a hard league to learn in and real hard if you’re playing against the second line people he’s playing against. It’s growing pains for Steph.. We’re trying to put him in a situation to have success, as opposed to failing. (Friday) was a hard night for Zack Smith and Jason Spezza, as well.”
Defenceman David Rundblad, a healthy scratch for the past five games, will return to the lineup against Carolina, replacing Brian Lee.