OTTAWA -- Ask anyone in the Ottawa Senators dressing room Tuesday and he would say their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Montreal Canadiens comes down to Craig Anderson vs. Carey Price.
Anyone, that is, except Craig Anderson.
"Last time I checked, I don't shoot pucks on him and he doesn't shoot pucks on me," Anderson said. "It would pretty hard for me to have a battle against him unless we decided to meet at center ice and have a little tussle."
Goalie - OTT
GAA: 1.69 | SVP: 0.941
It's understandable why Anderson would be the talk of series -- the Senators goaltender ended the regular season leading the League in goals-against average (1.69) and save percentage (.941), missing 18 games with a sprained right ankle. However, Anderson was quick to praise his opponent in net, and said he knows Price will be tough for his teammates to beat.
"Price is a great goalie and he's had a great career," Anderson said. "He's continued to get better. He's one of those guys … if he gets on a roll, he's going to be tough to beat. The way playoffs are, last season, [Los Angeles Kings goaltender] Jonathan Quick got on a roll and he helped take his team to the Stanley Cup. A lot of it determines how the team plays in front of you and can you make that big save."
Anderson's name was bandied about for Vezina and possibly Hart Trophy consideration prior to his injury, but the netminder said individual awards aren't a concern.
"I don't really think about the personal accolades too much," Anderson said. "It's a team game. And without 20 guys in the dressing room doing their work and doing what they do, I wouldn't be able to have the statistics that I do. There's a strong correlation between good teammates and a good coaching system. That's what helps me win games.
"It was pretty good year. I didn't want to miss a handful of games like that with the injury. But my goal is to get the opportunity to win, and I did that on most nights. That's all I can really ask of myself. It's one of those things where you're only as good as your teammates, and we worked well together this year. All of our goalies that we've had here have had success. That's a feather in the cap of our team."
The Senators-Canadiens series will be the second opportunity for Anderson to backstop the team in the postseason. He started all seven games in Ottawa's first-round loss to the New York Rangers last spring. He also was the starter for the Colorado Avalanche in 2010 when that team lost in the first round.
"I don't really think I have anything to prove," Anderson said. "There's only one team that can move on in each round, and so much is determined by how the team plays. It's like a [pitcher in] baseball -- you can have a great inning and still not get any run support. We're at the mercy of our teammates. The better they play the better chance for the goalie to have success and move on.
"For me, I have to come out of the gate hard and maintain momentum for as long as I can. You really have to maximize those opportunities when you have it. And when things begin to go a bit sideways and you start to lose it, you have to find a way to get that back, whether it's a big save or a big goal or a fight … it's the biggest thing to try and handle."
The pressure is on both goaltenders to produce. Anderson knows the series may come down to puck luck, but he's relishing the chance to square off against a division rival.
"At the end of the day, our jobs are to give our teams a chance to win," Anderson said. "It could come down to a lucky bounce, who knows? Carey Price is a great goaltender, but we're definitely looking forward to the opportunity to beat him."