DENVER – Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson is in no hurry to return from a balky right knee, especially with his backup playing so well in his absence.
Anderson has been sidelined since getting hurt during pre-game warmups Oct. 26 in Vancouver. He was on the ice Wednesday for the morning skate, but said there’s no timetable for a return.
And with Peter Budaj’s efficient and effective play in net of late, Anderson acknowledged there’s no reason to rush back.
“It’s more important to take an extra week here in the month of November and make sure it’s 100 per cent rather than try to rush back and re-injure it and have the whole season go down the tubes,” Anderson said. “Whether it’s next week or two weeks, who knows when it could be? My job is just to be ready and get myself ready.”
Budaj was starting his 10th-straight game Wednesday night against San Jose. He’s 5-3-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average since Anderson’s knee ailment.
“He’s been great for us,” Anderson said. “By him playing better, it’s making me want to get back in there and play better. When I play better, it makes him want to play better. It’s a positive combination.”
Anderson wasn’t the scheduled starter the night he was injured. He was taking part in the final warmup drill—a tight scramble that is reserved for the backup goalie, with teammates firing away from close range—when he went down awkwardly. He got up in obvious pain and skated gingerly to the bench before receiving help.
Although no surgery was required, the team placed him on injured reserve the next day.
Since then, the knee has been steadily progressing.
“He seems to be back on track and headed in the right direction,” coach Joe Sacco said. “He’s improving every day. But we still don’t have a date set yet.”
Anderson said it’s not so much the physical pain at this point, but the mental barrier.
“A little hesitant to get back into those deep crouches or deep butterflies,” the 29-year-old Anderson said. “I’ve been working on that. Mentally, you’ve got to be able to do it without thinking. As soon as I lose that thought process, and it just becomes second nature, then I’ll be 100 per cent.”
Anderson isn’t accustomed to watching Colorado games from the sideline. He was brought in last season to be the backbone of the Avalanche and they relied heavily on him as he guided the team on their playoff run. Anderson set franchise records in starts (71), minutes (4,235), shots faced (2,233) and saves (2,047).
“I guess I get a break, right?” he said, grinning. “It’s a matter of taking the extra time right now so when the team is making that playoff push, I can be a big part of that.”