Senators notebook: Anderson takes top NHL honours

The NHL once again recognized Craig Anderson for his sparkling play on Monday, naming him first star for a week in which he posted a 3-0 record and a .970 save percentage, stopping 96 of 99 shots.

The way defenceman Erik Karlsson sees it, however, there’s more to the story than just the numbers.

“He plays the puck really well, he sees the game so well, he talks a lot out there and he does so much more than stop the puck for us right now,” Karlsson said before Monday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

“He has probably been our most important player for the last 10 games or so.”
There can’t be much argument about that. Anderson started his ninth straight game against Winnipeg Monday, after posting an 8-0-1 record in his previous nine decisions. His hot stretch actually began when he came on in relief of Alex Auld Dec. 30, leading the Senators to the come-from-behind overtime 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames, when Daniel Alfredsson scored his 400th goal.

If you go a little further back, Anderson is a sparkling 17-5-3, with a goals against average of 2.46 and a .920 save percentage since being yanked early against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 11.

“We have full confidence in him and it’s the reason why we’re getting so many tight wins right now,” winger Nick Foligno said before the game against the Jets. “Look at the game in Montreal (a 3-2 shootout win Saturday). At the start, if he doesn’t make those saves, it’s a whole different game.”

Anderson isn’t getting lost in the accolades and awards, suggesting that a player is never as great or as awful as the best optimists and worst pessimists argue and that every player needs support, regardless of his position. He says the secret to long-term success is maintaining a steady-as-she-goes approach.

“It’s about just staying in the rhythm, staying in the groove, finding ways to keep winning, keep getting the two points,” Anderson said. “You can’t just count on one guy. The better the guys in front of him play, the better the goalie is going to play. The better the linemates play, the better the centre is going to look. The better guys play around each other, the more benefits you’re going to get.”

So, when do the Senators give him a rest?

It’s highly unlikely that back-up Alex Auld will get the start Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, given that the Battle of Ontario rivalry has heated up a bit because both teams are in playoff contention again. After Toronto, the Senators head way west to close out the pre All-Star stretch: Thursday against San Jose, Saturday versus Anaheim, Monday against Los Angeles and next Tuesday versus Phoenix. There may be an opening for Auld to play against Anaheim – an afternoon game against a struggling Western Conference opponent – but considering that Anderson will have a full week off after the Phoenix game, he could end up playing all the games on trip.

Anderson played in 71 games with Colorado in 2009-10, but if he keeps rolling, he might challenge that mark again.

PETERSSON TO SENATORS? The Senators haven’t made any official announcement yet, but a report out of Sweden Monday claimed that prospect Andre Petersson will be recalled from Binghamton and join the team in Toronto Tuesday.

Petersson, chosen 109th overall in the 2008 draft, has four goals and seven assists in his past six games with the Senators American Hockey League affiliate. In 30 games with Binghamton this season, he has 12 goals and 13 assists.

The Senators are at a bare minimum of forwards as they embark on their six-game road trip and Petersson could provide some insurance. Or, there could be a counter move with an existing forward shipped back to Binghamton to clear room for Petersson.

Kaspars Daugavins is the only current forward with a two-way contract, paying him a vastly reduced salary when playing in the minors.

THE SINGER…AND HER BROTHER: Zenon Konopka insists he has no musical talent whatsoever. Apparently, that skill all went to his sisters. Konopka’s 33-year-old sister, Cynthia, was the latest to step in for Lyndon Slewidge Monday in singing the national anthems and she didn’t disappoint. There’s a hockey connection to her start on the big stage. “My sister sang growing up and when I was about 10 years old, we went to a tournament in Boston,” said Zenon. “My dad made my sister sing an anthem before we got off the bus. She sang at the Memorial Cup, when we played here in Ottawa, she sang in the East Coast Hockey League, she sang in the (AHL) and she sang in Tampa in the NHL. It’s pretty special for me to have her here.” Cynthia Konopka is a music teacher in Niagara-On-The-Lake. “She got the looks and talent in the family,” said Zenon.

 

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