Anderson, Budaj put friendship on hold

Senators goalie Craig Anderson has friends on the Canadiens, but for these playoffs, they’re the opposition.

Craig Anderson comes up with the save against Montreal on Thursday night. Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images.

MONTREAL — In yet another example of how small the hockey world is, Sens goalie Craig Anderson is close friends with both Canadiens netminder Peter Budaj and Habs goaltending coach Pierre Groulx.
Budaj, who stepped into the pressure cooker — aka, the Canadiens’ net — for Thursday’s elimination game due to the lower-body injury to No. 1 netminder Carey Price, spent six seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. Anderson was with Colorado for two seasons before being dealt to the Senators for fellow goaltender Brian Elliott at the tail end of the 2010-11 season.
Budaj still calls Colorado home in the offseason and Anderson usually tries to hook up with him at some point every summer. Their wives are friends, as well.
Before Thursday’s game, however, Anderson says he was doing his best to block out his personal connections to Budaj.
“The time for friendships and that kind of stuff is for the offseason, or maybe in the regular season, after a game,” Anderson said. “Friendships are definitely important and regardless of what happens, we’ll still be friends. But right now, you’re fighting for the guy in the dressing room, fighting for your career, fighting for your pride and you can’t let friendships (be a distraction).”
Anderson did praise Budaj for his solid season as a back-up, saying “Peter has one of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen.”
The Senators goaltender also said “he played really well for them down the stretch and I know Pierre Groulx really well and I know he gets his goalies ready.”
The Anderson-Groulx connection, meanwhile, goes back to when both were in Florida. Anderson can’t say enough about what Groulx, an Ottawa native who once served as Senators video coach, has meant to his career.
“His expertise, there are a lot of things I owe him,” Anderson said. “There will never be a day I would ever turn my back on him. We’re still friends today and we still talk in the offseason.”
STONE SKATES AND WAITS
A year ago at this time, Mark Stone made his NHL debut in Game 5 of the Senators’ playoff series against the New York Rangers. Come Game 5 against the Montreal Canadiens, he was a spectator, awaiting his chance.
“The way the team is playing now, they’re not going to change too much,” he said before Thursday’s game. “The guys are playing well, developing real good team chemistry. It’s a great mood around the room and I’m just prepared (in case of injury).
“You can never have too many guys, especially around playoff time, so that’s my mindset: come in, work hard, enjoy it and you just never know.”
Stone had no points in four games with the Senators during the regular season. During the American Hockey League regular season with Binghamton, he had 15 goals and 23 assists in 54 games. He had a goal and two assists in Binghamton’s three playoff games. … Senators coach Paul MacLean, when asked about Guillaume Latendresse, who has been a healthy scratch since Game 2, said, “We want to make sure we address our most competitive, physical lineup and that’s what we’ve done.”

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