LAS VEGAS -- The good days -- those days full of energy and verve -- are starting to accumulate, just not in an orderly and predictable sequence.
Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson and his wife, Nicholle Anderson, are starting to figure out the pattern and are making the necessary adjustments, almost one month after she was deemed cancer-free. Nicholle's opening paragraph on her personal blog was powerful.
"When you hear the words CANCER FREE, you don't know whether to jump with excitement or cry tears of joy," she wrote. "Let me tell you, I will circle C all of the above!"
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The Andersons are in Las Vegas for the 2017 NHL Awards on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN); Craig is a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, along with Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano and Carolina Hurricanes forward Derek Ryan. The award is given to the player who exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
"She made the trip," Craig Anderson said on Tuesday. "Spent the morning at the pool. Everything was good, and like I said, she goes, goes, goes and then needs to rest. She can't go like she used to, but it's starting to come back. From talking to different support groups that's she been a part of for this type of cancer, (it's) anywhere from six months to 12 months before you actually feel normal, back where it used to be.
"She's still trying to get her strength back, but she'll have a good day, and the next day it'll be a low-key day where she's got to rest. For the most part, things are getting back to normal."
Nicholle was diagnosed in October with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and Craig took two leaves of absence to be with her during treatments. She told Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com last month, "He's been there through the thick and thin of it."
Craig Anderson again paid tribute to his teammates and the Senators organization for their unwavering support. He was 25-11-4 with a 2.28 goals-against average, five shutouts and .926 save percentage in 40 games during the regular season.
Video: Craig Anderson greets wife Nicholle after Game 6 win
"It's definitely been a year of ups and downs," he said. "Being optimistic and staying positive is the key. We've always kind of looked forward and set our eye on the goal of being positive and always looking ahead.
"Teammates were huge. Between the ownership group, management and then the guys in the room … it was an outstanding support group and everyone was so supportive. It made it easy to leave and it made it easier to come back because the guys were just so good about it."
The tight bond developed by the Senators during the regular season helped spark a remarkable run in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, in which they reached the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2007. They lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime in Game 7.
"As a group, we really came together," Anderson said. "Inside the room, I thought we always believed that we could achieve. As we had more success, that belief grew more and more. It's real easy to fall to the naysayers and make that your train of thought, but I thought we did a great job in the room of blocking away any of the excess negativity that was being developed from the get-go when we were picked not to be a good team from the start."