Craig Anderson talks on-ice struggles after Senators lose to Predators
A shot by Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis gets past Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson for a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators won 3-1. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
BUFFALO – Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson spoke publicly following Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, but he was only talking about the dispiriting defeat on the ice.
Anderson, who has been granted two personal leaves of absence from the Senators in the past three weeks, has yet to publicly addressed the battle that his wife, Nicholle, is waging with cancer.
His chief on-ice concern is the club’s offensive struggles.
The Senators, who play the Buffalo Sabres here Wednesday, have scored only four goals in their past four games. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 33 shots in Tuesday’s win.
“Give Pekka some credit, but if this continues, you can’t keep looking at the other goalie and saying, ‘he’s that great’,” Anderson said immediately after the game, before the Senators flew to Buffalo. “It’s going to happen from time to time. I’m not taking anything away from Pekka. He played great. He was definitely a difference maker for them, but we need to put pucks in the net and start getting our swagger back.”
It’s expected that Buffalo’s Robin Lehner, the former Senators netminder, will start for the Sabres Wednesday. Lehner was outstanding in Buffalo’s 2-1 win over the Senators on Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre, when Mike Hoffman was the lone Ottawa player to score.
Most of the Senators offensive leaders have gone cold. Derick Brassard is pointless in five games and hasn’t scored since the season opener. Mark Stone is in the same boat, without a point in five games and stuck on one goal for the season. Bobby Ryan’s only goal in his past seven games was scoring into an empty net.
While the Senators had a strong start against Nashville – Rinne robbed Ryan with an outstanding pad save six minutes into the then scoreless game – they strayed from structure as the game wore on.
The Predators capitalized to take a 2-0 lead on goals from James Neal and P.K. Subban to take a 2-0 lead early in the second period. They padded the edge to 3-0 on a Ryan Ellis goal. Kyle Turris finished off the scoring, breaking Rinne’s shutout bid.
“It’s about keeping the right mindset, pushing forward,” said Anderson.
“It’s very difficult to keep that mindset when things aren’t going the way you need them to offensively, (but) when you try to be a little bit more individualistic, that usually backfires.
“For us, we just have to stick with it, stay together as a group and make sure that we get out of this together as far as scoring goals.”
Anderson says his role in all of the above is simple. When the opposition goaltender is on top of his game, he has be on top of his.
“Just make the next save,” said Anderson. “You can’t worry about what he’s doing at the other end.”
Part of his role is giving his teammates a heads up when the play is in the Senators end, trying to keep errors to a minimum.
“That’s the name of the game, mistakes,” he said. “Being good with the puck, and it starts with communicating with the guys and letting guys know what they have available. And if I can be their eyes back there and help them out to make the right play, then that’s what I’ve got to do.”