Anderson returns to practice, no timetable for return to game action

In another example of just how well Ottawa Senators back-up goaltenders Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner have filled in for injured netminder Craig Anderson, captain Daniel Alfredsson wasn’t even aware that Anderson returned to practice Monday morning.

Chris Phillips (4) and Marc Methot help goalie Craig Anderson off the ice after he injured his ankle on a collision with the Rangers' Chris Kreider. Photo by Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press.

In another example of just how well Ottawa Senators back-up goaltenders Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner have filled in for injured netminder Craig Anderson, captain Daniel Alfredsson wasn’t even aware that Anderson returned to practice Monday morning.
In the captain’s defence, Anderson only took a few shots — going down to the ice on a few — at the opposite end to where Alfredsson was shooting. Before Monday, Anderson had not taken part in a full workout since suffering his sprained ankle on Feb. 21.
“It’s good to see him making progress, getting closer,” Alfredsson said. “It has been frustrating for him, especially the way he was playing. But it’s just at the point where we want to make sure it’s 100 per cent before he comes back and he’ll be a nice addition when he’s ready.”
For those who might have forgotten, Anderson was on target to win the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender, as well as a leading candidate for the Hart Trophy as league MVP, when Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers slid into his leg. Anderson has an 8-4-4 record and a league leading 1.49 goals-against average and .952 save percentage.
Senators coach Paul MacLean was optimistic at seeing his No. 1 netminder on the ice, but considering how well Bishop and Lehner have played, he’s in the comfortable position of not pushing Anderson to return too soon. He acknowledges the play of the other two goaltenders has made it easier for the team to be patient with Anderson.
“It’s good to have him out there, but it was his first day,” MacLean said. “We’ll take it as a positive and go from there. We want him back as soon as we get him. He’s going to have to practise a little bit before he gets into a game.”
KOVALCHUK OUT, D’AGOSTINI IN FOR DEVILS
Bishop paid respect to Kovalchuk, who is out of the Devils’ lineup for two-to-four weeks due to a shoulder injury, saying “he’s one of the best players in the league,” but he also claims his good friend Matt D’Agostini could help fill the void.
D’Agostini, who scored 21 goals and 25 assists with the St. Louis Blues in 2010-11, was acquired last week in a trade for a conditional draft pick. D’Agostini and Bishop know each other from their days in the St. Louis organization, are regular golf partners during the summer and worked out together in St. Louis during the lockout.
“I had his number most of the time — low blocker, high glove,” D’Agostini said, with a laugh. “He has every right to be a starter in this league and he has proved it this year.”
CUE THE BROKEN RECORD
Peter DeBoer is the latest NHL coach to credit the Senators for thriving, despite their long injury list.
“We need to do the same thing,” he said, referring to the loss of Kovalchuk, Dainius Zubrus and Alexei Ponikarovsky. “The reality of where we’re at is the league isn’t going to stand still until (Kovalchuk) comes back.”
DeBoer is hoping some inspiration comes from the fact that Adam Henrique emerged as a solid NHL player last season due to injuries to Travis Zajac.
BINGHAMTON NOW HAS A BUDDY SYSTEM
The Senators have signed 6-5, 236-pound forward Buddy Robinson to a three-year entry level contract. Robinson, who had eight goals, eight assists and 48 penalty minutes with Lake Superior State this season, was assigned to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. Robinson, 21, played with the Nepean Raiders of the CCHL in 2010-11, registering five goals, 19 assists and 20 penalty minutes in 19 games.
kwarren@ottawacitizen.com
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