OTTAWA – Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson is downplaying the impending battle between him and New York Rangers all-star netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
“For the most part it’s me versus the shooters and not so much me against Henrik,” said Anderson as his eighth-seed Senators prepare to take on the first-place Rangers starting with Game 1 on Thursday in New York.
Game 2 is set for Saturday before heading to Ottawa on April 16th for Game 3.
Lundqvist has posted career numbers this year and has ample playoff experience, having played 35 career post-season games. That doesn’t intimidate Anderson.
“We both have the same goal and that’s to give our team a chance to win,” said Anderson. “Guys maybe feed off each other when one makes a big save it kind of forces you to make a big save and it can kind of go back and forth, but that’s really the only comparison you have during a game.”
There’s little doubt that if the Senators hope to compete with the Rangers they will need Anderson to be as good if not better than he was during the regular season, when he went 33-22-6 in 63 games.
“Andy’s a key part to our team and he’s going to play real well for us and their goalie’s going to play well,” said Ottawa forward Jason Spezza. “We anticipate a long series where there’s going to be a lot of give and take.”
With just six playoff games Anderson has little experience in the post-season, but to his credit he has a 6-0-0 record with a 1.13 GAA and two shutouts in six career starts at Madison Square Garden.
In his last appearance on January 12 he stopped all 34 shots in a 3-0 Senators win.
“Every team I’ve played on seems to have gone in that building and played really well,” said Anderson. “You’re on the biggest stage in America, maybe even the world. It’s Madison Square Garden, it’s New York, it’s where you want to be.”
With players looking for every possible edge when it comes to the post-season Anderson said it’s up to individuals to find their own personal motivation.
“You have to feed off something and take the positives from the past and winning at MSG is definitely a positive and I’ll take that,” said Anderson. “That’s one thing I can feed off and maybe something the team can feed off knowing we’ve had success in that building.”
Like Anderson, Senators coach Paul MacLean believes players should take advantage of any edge available.
“Some players play better in some buildings than others,” said MacLean. “If you feel good playing in a place it certainly helps you when you’re going in there that you’ve played well and have confidence.”
Notes: C Mika Zibanejad was practising on the top line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek leading to suspicion that he could play during the series. Coach Paul MacLean admitted the plan is for Zibanejad to play two games with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators this weekend, but they “won’t be afraid” to use him later in the series. … D Matt Carkner missed practice for the second straight day with a lower body injury, but is expected to be able to rejoin the team Wednesday. C Jim O’Brien left practice early after taking a puck to the hand and will be re-evaluated, but MacLean didn’t anticipate it being anything serious.