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New Sens stopper: 'It was a big shock to me'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
New Senators goaltender Craig Anderson watches from the bench during Ottawa's 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place on Friday night (Photo by Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images).
When a new day dawned in Denver, Craig Anderson expected he'd be preparing with a teammates for a trip to the west coast.

Ten "eventful" hours later, the 29-year-old goaltender found himself frantically putting on his gear at an arena on the opposite side of the continent, where he'd assume the backup goaltending for a new team north of the border while the Colorado Avalanche headed west to San Jose.

Such was the whirwind odyssey that brought Anderson to the Ottawa Senators on Friday in exchange for another netminder, Brian Elliott, who is now a member of the Avalanche. Once he finally arrived at Scotiabank Place, Anderson watched from the bench as the Senators dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins.

"It was a big shock to me," Anderson said of the deal that brought him to a Canadian team for the first time in his National Hockey League career after previous stops in Chicago, Florida and Colorado. "But everything happens for a reason. One door closes and another one opens for  a reason."

For Anderson, the door he'd be waiting to step through appeared to open last season, when the Avalanche handed him their starting job after he'd spent the previous three years as a backup with the Panthers. The native of Park Ridge, Ill., played a major role in backstopping the young Avs to a playoff berth, seeing action in a whopping 71 games and posting a 38-25-7 mark with a 2.63 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.

Anderson wasn't done there, turning in an almost superhuman effort as No. 8 seed Colorado nearly upset the Western Conference regular-season kings, the San Jose Sharks, in the first round. But Anderson — who battled a knee injury earlier this season — wasn't nearly effective for an Avalanche team that has seen its collective play slip, skidded to 14th spot in the West and almost certainly will miss the playoffs.

Given all that, Anderson suggsted the trade to Ottawa might be just the move he needs.

"Sometimes, a change of scenery is good for players," he told reporters following tonight's game. "I think it’s all a mindset. You’ve got to have a positive mindset wherever you’re at and control what you can control. You don’t have control over where the GM tells you where to go. That’s the business we’re in and for me, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing my job."

With Anderson not in the building for puck drop against the Bruins, the Senators obtained National Hockey League permission to dress the injured Pascal Leclaire as a backup to start the game, then switch to their newest goaltender when he arrived. Anderson said later he's never been through a scene quite like it.

"i've seen it once with a forward coming in halfway through the first period, but never by a goalie," he said. "I guess it'll be a good story (to tell) down the road ... (Leclaire and I) had a good little conversation there. I don't know much about him and it was good to meet all the guys between periods."

Anderson is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but he's hardly had time to consider whether he'd like to make Ottawa his long-term hockey home. His play over the final 24 games of the Senators season figures to go a long way in making that decision.

"It all depends on how you play," said Anderson, who hasn't heard yet whether he'll make his Senators debut on Saturday night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200. "I’ve got a job to do, to stop the puck, and it’s very simple ... control what I can control, and I can’t control what goes on off the ice. I just worry about stopping the puck and being there for the guys. Everything else will take care of itself

"I haven’t really looked forward. Right now, I just got through the day. I’d like to get my first game and get my feet wet here before anything is made final. I’ve still got a lot of prove here and hopefully, if it all works out, it works out."

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