Goaltender Craig Anderson rejoined the Ottawa Senators on Monday after being away for eight weeks while his wife, Nicholle, had extended radiation and chemotherapy treatments in New York for a rare throat cancer.
Before rejoining the Senators in Sunrise, Florida, Anderson had been working with goaltending coach Pierre Groulx in New Jersey. Anderson hasn't played an NHL game since an 8-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 5 and said his situation now is akin to going through training camp all over again.
"Timing is everything," Anderson told the Ottawa Citizen. "I skated for a few days before coming in here, but nothing replaces actual shots. It's going to be a work in progress. I have to find a way to battle through it and get my game as quickly as possible."
Neither Anderson nor coach Guy Boucher said he has a timetable for his return, but it's likely to be at least two weeks before Anderson is ready for game action.
"On the morale side of everything, it's great to have him around," Boucher said. "But at the same time, we're very well aware that it's going to take time for him to get his shape back."
Goaltender Mike Condon will play his 25th consecutive game and make his 15th straight start when the Senators play at the Florida Panthers on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, RDS-2, TSN5, NHL.TV). Andrew Hammond will be the backup.
Anderson said he's been enthused by how the Senators, especially Condon, have done in his absence. They are 11-6-4 in 21 games since he left and are second in the Atlantic Division. Condon is 12-6-5 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in his past 24 games.
"We've found ways to keep getting points, winning games," Anderson said. "[Condon] has stepped up and been great for us and carried the load."
Anderson also said he has a new perspective about life, and hockey, after being with his wife during her treatment.
"It makes you realize how lucky and fortunate we are to play a game we love," he said. "Win or lose, it's a hockey game. There's more to life. You learn that when you have kids, but when you go through something this traumatic and this difficult, hockey is a job. It's something we're passionate about, but at the end of the day, hockey will go on whether I'm in it or not.
"You don't know how much time you have with someone. Life is precious."