Anderson ready for lots of work

From our Famous Last Words dept., this just in: Ottawa Senator goalie Craig Anderson is not worried about being worn out halfway through the season by a steady diet of 40-shot games, because he’s older and wiser and used to the mental strain of being an NHL goalie. Er, OK.


From our Famous Last Words Dept., this just in: Ottawa Senator goalie Craig Anderson is not worried about being worn out halfway through the season by a steady diet of 40-shot games, because he’s older and wiser and used to the mental strain of being an NHL goalie.
Er, OK.
But we’ll still check in a little later, just to see if he’s changed his mind, because it’s shaping up to another long year for Ottawa’s goalies.
Over their seven pre-season games – including their final 2-1 win in Boston on Thursday, in which the Bruins shelled Anderson with 40 shots – the Senators scored 16 goals.
That’s an average of 2.28 per game.
Not to be alarmist, but that’s fewer by a bit than the 2.32 the team scored per game last year, when it was the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL.
Rather obviously, it hasn’t escaped the attention of coach Paul MacLean, who will be working on ways to coax more offence out of his team in advance of Friday’s opener in Detroit against the Red Wings.
After having Sunday off, the team will be back on the ice this morning.
“Goals are at a premium for every team in the league, and we’re no different than any other team,” said MacLean.
“We have to find ways to create offence and scoring chances for ourselves.
“We’ve done that (in the pre-season), not in every game, obviously, because we played way too much in our own end in the Newfoundland game and the game in Boston.
“We can’t continue to do that and have success. You don’t create much offence playing in your own end.
“Being efficient defensively and being able to come out of our own end with some speed is still a priority.
When you do those things, you create scoring chances and you create offence, and that’s what we need to do.”
MacLean said it was a bit of good luck that Anderson’s shutdown performance on Thursday matched his team’s goal-scoring ability.
“When you can have that happen, that’s good,” said MacLean.
How often Anderson can stand on his head like be did in Boston will in large part determine how successful the Senators are this year.
But the 30-year-old goalie is not worried that a nightly barrage of shots will turn him into a blubbering fool by the all-star break.
“It doesn’t really matter to me, because it’s still 60 minutes of concentration,” he said.
“When you have a bunch of shots, you get a good feeling for the game.
“When you’re standing around a lot, and you don’t have a whole lot of shots, it’s a different game.
“Not everybody can play a game where they see 40 shots, and not a lot can play when you only see 15 or 20. You kind of have to adjust your game. Every goalie’s different.
“It’s more physical when you see a lot more shots, but when you don’t see a lot of shots, you still have to stay sharp and find a way to stay focused for those 60 minutes.”
Throughout his career, he said, with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Florida Panthers, the Colorado Avalanche, and now the Senators, he’s been on low-scoring teams.
So it’s not as if games like Thursday’s was a new experience. He’s had the pressure of protecting one-goal leads.
But what has really helped is that, as he’s got older, he’s figured out the mental side of the game.
“The physical part, that’s what you train for all summer,” he said.
“The mental part is that you have to stay focused for 60 minutes regardless of how many shots you face.
“Goaltending is so mental, and that’s why so many goalies get better with age – they figure out the mental side of the game and how to stay focused.
“Sometimes earlier in a young goalie’s career, they do better when they face a lot of shots, because they don’t have time to let their mind wander.”
Not every game will turn out like Thursday’s against Boston.
As teams get sharper in the regular season, the odds will be that they convert more of their scoring chances, meaning the Senators will have to get a lot better at cutting down on the number of shots they allow.
But having a goalie with the ability to keep a game close is reassuring, said Jason Spezza.
Too often last year, the Senators found themselves in a hole that was too deep to escape. Too often, they were behind 3-0 after the first period and the game was effectively over.
“It’s a big difference if you’re down 1-0 in the third period rather than 3-0,” said Spezza.
“It’s a lot harder to come back.
“(Anderson) does a good job of keeping things close.
“He’s a confident guy. He does a great job of keeping things level-headed for us.”
MacLean won’t have his team play more of a defensive game to compensate for its offensive shortcomings. He plans to play the straight-ahead game he’s talked about since he was hired.
“We want to play a fast game, we want to play 200 feet, and we’re not going to change that,” he said.
“We feel we have the personnel to do that, and that’s the way we’re going to play.”
But MacLean takes a lesson from his coaching history, when he and Mike Babcock took the Mighty Ducks to the Stanley Cup final in 2003, to illustrate what he’s expecting from Anderson.
“I think the goaltending position is the leadership position on the team,” said MacLean
“The team can take an awful lot of confidence from the goaltending.
“I know in 2003 when the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim went to the Stanley Cup final, the biggest leader on that team was (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere.
“A goaltender can provide a team with an awful lot of confidence.”

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