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Anderson Comes Full Circle

Monday, 07.23.2007 / 5:05 PM ET / News
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Anderson Comes Full Circle
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

One step back, two steps forward.

That’s how Panther goalie Craig Anderson looks back on his 2006-07 season. No bitterness. No regrets. And for the fact he went in one week last summer from possibly being the Panthers’ No. 2 man in goal to spending his season in the minors?

“It was a positive experience in every possible way.”

Anderson, who signed a two-year deal in June and will serve as backup come the 2007-08 season to Tomas Vokoun, has traveled a long, winding road the past two seasons. But the 6-2 goalie has finally landed on solid ground and in a stable situation.

“I think everyone is more comfortable,” Anderson, 26, said.

Anderson was acquired by the Panthers last July after a whirlwind 2005-06 season in which, along with playing 29 games for the Blackhawks, he was claimed off waivers in the span of 11 days by both the Bruins and Blues.

But just seven days after arriving in South Florida to seemingly serve behind Alex Auld, the Panthers signed Ed Belfour. Suddenly, Anderson was the odd man out. That meant a season playing for the Panthers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester.

In retrospect, Anderson understands why the Panthers had uncertainty in goal last summer.

“I think part of it was both Alex and I were young,” Anderson recalled. “Alex had played around 60 games (67) in Vancouver (in 2005-06). I spent most of the year in Chicago as a backup but went through waivers a few times. I think (the Panthers) were covering their own assets. I think they were making sure they had the right combination in case there was an injury. They were just kind of covering their bases.”

Anderson didn’t sulk about being sent to Rochester. In fact, he wound up helping the Americans to the playoffs with a 23-10 record, a 2.21 goals against and .931 save percentage. When asked about his time in Rochester, Anderson replied; “In terms of development, it was a small step backward to take a big step forward.”

“Sometimes you have to take a step back in this game in order to progress,” said the Park Ridge, IlL., native. “I think going down there (in Rochester), taking it with a positive attitude, and playing a lot and kind of being a leader on the team and helping to bring along the young guys helped with my development.

“I don’t think I would have benefited as much staying (with the Panthers) and playing 15 games. The best thing for me was to go down and be the guy everyone counted on to get confidence and realize I can do anything, pretty much.”

Anderson, who was called up by the Panthers Feb. 19, played in only five games. But it was enough to show GM and coach Jacques Martin he belonged.
   
“Craig played very well in his backup role for our club during the later part of last season,” Martin said. “He is a diligent, focused and high character player who works hard to stay prepared night in and night out. We are confident both Craig and Tomas Vokoun will work well together and bring success to the organization.”

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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