Scouting the opposition: Craig Anderson

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers are moving on to Phase 2 of their “skip the Metropolitan and tear through the Atlantic” master plan to win the Stanley Cup. Their next opponent is the Ottawa Senators. After dispatching an injury-riddled Bruins’ club in six games, the Sens aim to punch a ticket to the Conference Finals.

A big part of Ottawa’s success in the first round was the solid play of goaltender Craig Anderson. He has become something of a cult hero in the Canadian capital due to his wife Nicholle’s courageous battle with a rare form of cancer (nasopharyngeal carcinoma). Her treatments are progressing well from all accounts, and on a personal level, the Anderson family is easy to root for and we should all hope that everything ends well in a difficult circumstance.

On the ice, however, the Rangers have the task of solving another goaltender that is performing well. Anderson is no Carey Price, so that’s the good news, but let’s dig a little deeper into his game to see what the Blueshirts are dealing with. Format remains the same as always, Stance, Crease Movment/Depth, Puck-handling and Exploitable Weaknesses. Here we go…


Anderson plays a wider set than his 6’2” height would typically indicate. He has a loaded crouch, which is consistent with his reactionary playing style. Because Anderson isn’t one of those goaltenders who has freakish adduction capabilities in his hips, his physiological reaction to this set up is similar to what many of us would experience: a straight drop to the ice with little lateral capability.

This isn’t to say Anderson is immobile, but his natural stance creates an extra step between dropping and moving, where if he was set up a little narrower, he might be able to fuse the two for some extra efficiency.

Crease movement/depth

Anderson is also a relatively aggressive goaltender. He is actually the reverse of many modern tenders in that he plays an athletic style with a blocking focus. Most blocking goaltenders try to maintain as much size and as little movement as possible (thus maximizing established blocking surface area). With Anderson, though, he is literally all over the place in his net, but he is always trying to make himself big, through either angular aggression or save techniques.

Positionally, Anderson is very solid, with reliable angles and solid tracking skills. The tracking, though, often goes awry in execution. While he is able to follow the puck fine, his issues with over-commitment and inefficient save techniques can come back to haunt him. We will touch on this in a bit more detail in the “Exploitable Weaknesses” section.


PadsTracker- The Goalie Guild

There is an odd mix of old and new in Anderson’s equipment set up. He is currently wearing the just released Brian’s G-Netik 3 equipment line, with some significant modifications. Typically, this line comes with a proprietary “Smart Strap” system, consisting of elastic and Velcro straps, designed to maintain flexibility and reduce weight. Anderson opts for the traditional leather and buckle style straps on his pads. The bigger change is in the calf-wrap. Namely, there isn’t one. Most goal pads have a padded wrap around your calf where strapping joins to protect the back of your leg. Anderson omits this (see photo below, with side by side of stock calf-wrap).

Anderson wears a very large chest and arm unit, which aids in the blocking component of his style, while also filling gaps in his slight frame. He wears the newest cowling-less goalie skates, but doesn’t really play a slide-centric game. He is something of a paradox with his equipment choices.



Anderson is a very competent puck-handler, generally. He is not a big stretch pass guy, but can distribute effectively and generally has good judgment as to where the puck needs to go. He does have a slight habit of getting a little ambitious and leading to some turnovers, but it isn’t a frequent problem.

Exploitable weaknesses

The biggest weakness in Anderson’s game is his lack of technical foundation. He has a habit of pulling himself way out of position attempting to either force a bad angle shot or trying to compensate for weak footwork on net front scrambles.

He is not overly mobile laterally, however, he is a gifted athlete and excels at making desperation-type saves. He is able to put up staggering numbers in short samples when he gets hot, but it doesn’t bode well for long-term consistency. In a playoff series though, Anderson could make things very difficult.


The keys for the Rangers are going to be to get Anderson moving. Be it lateral passing, well placed shots for rebounds, traffic in front, anything that gets him out of the static stance position will bode well for opening up holes and allowing for some chaos in front. Sure, there are going to be some frustrating saves, but if those happen, it means the Rangers are creating chances.


Of the remaining goaltenders, Anderson is one of the more preferable draws. Make no mistake, he is going to make some saves that make us all put our heads in our hands, but structurally, he is very beatable. The Rangers just need to execute.

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  • Anderson, in my opinion is a very underrated goalie. We faced him a few years back, and he almost upset us then, at which time I grew to appreciate his game, and girt. This guy is no push over, and we will be tested again. Should he play standing on his head, which seems to be the case whenever he plays us, it will be a very long series.

    On a personal basis, I’m pulling for him, and his bride, how can you not? The word cancer just sends chills down my spine, and hopefully some day they find a cure for that dreadful disease!!!!!!!!!!

    • Agreed Walt, He is one of the toughest goalies that has played against the Rangers in the last few years. When we play the Senators, I usually have a sigh of relief when he isn’t in there. I’m sure he will be tough, but I think we will sustain a good deal of pressure on him like we did with Price. My heart also goes out to him and his wife, I just lost a close family member to that horrible sickness. As a minister, I have also witness through the years, God’s Power through the name of Jesus Christ to amazingly heal some of the hopeless terminal cases through the prayer of faith.
      Go Rangers!

      • Craig

        Like you, I lost my youngest sister to that horrible disease last year, and I saw first hand how it affected her entire family. People like yourself do such good work providing comfort to those ailing, bless you my man!!!!!!!

      • Agreed on both posts.. sorry for your loss Craig. I lost my Dad to this dreaded disease 15 years ago come September and have lost friends to it as well over the years. On the goaltending front.. Anderson has always frustrated me but I always liked the guy.. on that note though.. we have to try to get him off his game early.

    • I suppose it depends on your definition of quality/value, Walt. Obviously, Anderson is very talented, but I am of the belief that he is not a guy you can count on for 60 games year in year out. His style lends itself to too much fluctuation in performance. He is basically the opposite of Hank. I’m personally not a fan, but I’m a big believer in consistency.

    • Walt, Agree he is good and like any goalie gives his team a chance. Our strategy is to get the puck low and work the D ,especially Carlson. Scrambles and lateral movement will be an area to exploit. However to do that we must have cycles and net front nastiness. Therefore over use of the long stretch pass will not work. They play 1-1-3 which starts out passive until the first pass. They jump the first pass with F2 and there are 3 more guys in the blue line. They are good at it. To break it, short passes and numbers are needed. Hinge the pass back to the D and over the other side. Chip and chase or carry in. Mindless dumps gets us caught in between and usually an easy out.
      Two keys :
      need a lot of O Zone time causing havoc and shots
      too many N Zone turnovers will cause a quick transition.
      If we do the first and avoid the later it can be a good night

  • Walt good morning we met Craig he is a down to earth kind of guy we told we are with him and his wife in fighting the cancer she has but I see this as emotion vs the king will hank rise to the occasion?

  • Plenty of goals scored last night, wow, for the playoffs the scores are high…

    Anderson has never been bad, and he plays the Rangers tough, let’s hope we play aggressive and get on top of this goalie and team.

    Teams can come together around a mate whose going through tough personal times, remember the passing of St. Louie’s mom, I wish the Anderson’s well and hope the best for them. I think its best the Rangers get him home to spend quality time with his bride, its the right thing to do.


  • Thanks for the write up, Justin. “He is able to put up staggering numbers in short samples when he gets hot, but it doesn’t bode well for long-term consistency. In a playoff series though, Anderson could make things very difficult.” – sums up my feelings on him very nicely.

  • Justin
    One question I had comes from the Montreal series. I saw, and heard that Price often put his leg pad down, causing him to create rebounds which he had a hard time controlling. We indeed saw that happen on a few occasions. Does Anderson have a similar quality, or does he do a better job of controlling rebounds?

    We seemed to make an effort to shoot low as Price had a good glove. Any insight on Anderson’s glove?

    • I suppose I would need a little more context here, Sal. Can you explain what you mean by “put his leg pad down”? Pads are designed differently now in that some are designed to push rebounds further out and some are designed to keep rebounds close. Price’s pads fall somewhere in the middle, so it may be a technique thing.

      As for Anderson, he uses soft pads so the rebounds shouldn’t be flying around the way they do for, say, Hank. His overall rebound control isn’t very good, though. If he is static, he does a nice job keeping rebounds out of the slot, but if you get him moving and shoot low, he is going to find himself in some trouble. He has an above-average glove hand, so not much to exploit there.

  • Anderson’s best career numbers in SV% and GAA come against the Rangers. Another in a long line of goalies who elevate their game against the blueshirts.

    • Is it that Anderson and other opposing goalies elevate their game against us? Or is it that, against quality goaltending, our forward group tends to be more easily shutdown because they have trouble finishing on scoring chances?

      That, as always, is my biggest concern. Will we be able to capitalize on the chances we have? If we do, then we will make really short work of this team. But if we revert to past Rangers playoff performances, then it will be another 7 game slog that will age us all before our time, and as usual it will be up to Hank to play close to perfect once again if we hope to advance.

      • Probably a little bit of both. Rangers haven’t had much pure sniper talent since Jagr, but they’ve obviously not been the worst team Anderson has faced in his career. Far from it.

        So, I think the combination of the Rangers consistently lacking elite scoring talent and opposing goalies finding an extra gear playing the chip high visibility NY Rangers creates a situation year after year where the Rangers have a tougher time than most beating what are otherwise beatable goalies.

  • While watching the Ana-Edm game last I realized again that goals in the play offs ain’t pretty. That being said the Rangers must own the blue paint. I said it in the first round and it applies to each and every round going forward. Put shots pucks on net and bodies and chaos in front.The Rangers must get pucks thru the maze of bodies. Pick up rebounds dirty goal in dirty areas. The team that owns the paint will win LGR.

  • When we play in a series where we are slight (or more ) underdogs I get a little chip on my shoulder and confident !….In this series vs Ottawa everybody seems to be picking the Rangers…..That’s usually makes me a little nervous ……That being said……LETS GO RANGERS !!!!!

  • I would love to hear your take on some of the old goaltenders.

    Richter , daddy B from the swamp, Dominic hasek. Eddie the eagle, grant fuhr, artis irbe

  • Anderson and Smith ( Arizona ) always seem to give the Rangers fits ….. That Talbot guy quietly chalked up another playoff win btw

    • Why are you so obsessed with Talbot? He’s a good goalie. What’s your point?

      BTW, did you see the 2nd and 3rd goals he let up? Not good. His high powered offense bailed him out…something that Hank rarely gets to enjoy in the playoffs.

      • Not … All you hear is he won’t do good in the playoffs cause he didn’t play any games and we have the HOF goalie who won every game 7 and blah blah blah blah blah blah …. He’s 5-1 in 6 starts … Not a bad showing … Could have saved 4.5 mil and gave it to another overpaid defenseman ! Lol

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