PITTSBURGH — The small world of the National Hockey League goal crease was on full display again Tuesday.
Only five days removed from knocking off his old Colorado buddy Peter Budaj to finish off the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson went head-to-head with former Florida friend Tomas Vokoun, now manning the Pittsburgh Penguins net.
“We played together for two years and I know him pretty well,” Vokoun said before puck drop. “We were friends off the ice, but just like with anybody, when you play them in the game, it has no bearing.”
Vokoun, who took over from struggling Penguins No. 1 netminder Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 of the opening round against the New York Islanders and won the final two games of the series, has been impressed with what Anderson has accomplished this season.
“He had a great season and I always thought, even when I first saw him in Florida, that he was a good goalie,” said Vokoun. “He proved it to the whole league. It took him a little while, but he has been spectacular this year.”
Anderson joked about their physical similarities — including their bald heads — before complimenting Vokoun in turn. He says the key to Vokoun’s career success is his unpredictability.
“He’s a guy where you don’t know what he’s going to do in there,” said Anderson. “You don’t know if he’s going to stand up or butterfly and that’s what kind of makes it challenging. That’s why Marty Brodeur is so good: Because you don’t know what he’s going to do.”
HEARD AROUND THE DRESSING ROOM
Sidney Crosby was named as a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy Tuesday, joining with Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding and Boston Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid in the running. The honour which goes to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
“I think whether you’re nominated or not, you miss any extended period of time or through a tough injury, any time you can get back to playing hockey and get back to what you love to do, that’s a big honour in itself,” said Crosby, whose battles with concussions have been well documented. “To be recognized for that definitely means a lot. A lot of guys who have battled through different things that have won that. Definitely an honour.”
Harding announced in December than he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. McQuaid had two surgeries in September because of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which resulted in blood clots forming. One surgery resulted in a rib and some muscle from his neck being removed.