Craig Anderson's Miraculous Month of October: Is This Guy for Real?

Patrick CwiklinskiCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2009

DENVER - OCTOBER 24:  Goalkeeper Craig Anderson #41 of the Colorado Avalanche awaits action against the Detroit Red Wings during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on October 24, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Anderson had 48 saves as the Avalanche defeated the Red Wings 3-1.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Hate him or love him, Craig Anderson has been the story of the NHL this October.

With dwindling expectations for the Colorado Avalanche coming into the season, general manager Greg Sherman initially brought Anderson in to add some goaltending depth to a team seriously lacking it but ultimately got a lot more than he bargained for.


Anderson, who spent his last three seasons with the Florida Panthers, came to Colorado as a relatively inexperienced goaltender having only played in 109 NHL games since being drafted twice.

Once, 77th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft and secondly, 73rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

During his tenure with the Panthers, Anderson proved to be a more-than-adequate backup in limited play behind starter Tomas Vokoun but looked for a bigger role and decided to cut his losses, leaving Florida to join the Avalanche during the 2009 offseason.

As a considerable upgrade over Colorado's on-and-off starter Peter Budaj, Anderson was finally able to get a shot at claiming the number-one spot and once the regular season got underway, he showed exactly why he was just the man for the job.

The Avalanche suddenly began winning games albeit early critics calling them flukes and freebies. However, Anderson kept his composure and began to shock and awe, leading last year's Western Conference bottom-feeders to the top of pot this month.

In 12 games with the Avalanche, Anderson has recorded two shutouts complimented by an incredible 1.97 GAA and a .940 save percentage, as of Wednesday, to lead his team to one of its best starts in franchise history.

Talk about "carpe diem."

If that's not enough, Anderson set a franchise record with 11 consecutive starts to begin the season and shattered Patrick Roy's old milestone of seven wins in October as he earned his eighth of the season against the Detroit Red Wings last Saturday.

Yes, the Patrick Roy.

With such a sizzling start, Anderson will now face adversity moving ahead with such a high bar set early in the season. Skeptics will likely question the 28-year-old's consistency and write him off from producing any post-season success should the Avalanche make it that far.

However, if Anderson is able to somehow remain red-hot and continue to lead the Avalanche in the right direction, it's not at all far-fetched to think of seeing the Illinois-native suiting up as one of the back-ups for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

But as cliche as it sounds, only time will tell.

The only thing that is certain now is that Anderson has long paid his dues in the NHL and is here now to prove that not only is he capable of being a starter but also a game-changer.

And in this bizarre month of fall that will not soon be forgotten, who are we to say otherwise?