Craig Anderson gets call in net to open 2021-22 Sabres season


Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – Over the course of his NHL career, goalie Craig Anderson has beaten the Buffalo Sabres the most of any team, going 20-10-2 in 34 games played.

The 40-year-old veteran will he get the call in net on Thursday, as the Sabres open the 2021-22 season against the Montreal Canadiens. In case you were wondering, Anderson has beaten the Canadiens 13 times in his career.

Anderson has 652 games played in the NHL, but he said he’ll still have those nerves before the game starts.

"There's still those first game jitters. They're always going to be there," Anderson said. "But it's more so the excitement of playing in the first game and playing a game that's meaningful."

Thursday will be the first opening night for Don Granato as a head coach in the NHL. Like Anderson, Granato says of course he’ll be anxious.

“You’ll always get a little nervous, so I think that’s part of being excited about the job you have," he said on Thursday. "If you’re not getting a little nervous, there’s probably something wrong. It might be time to hang it up.”

Montreal already played its first game of the season on Wednesday, a 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Anderson doesn’t think his team will be outworked, and he’s liked what he’s seen from the group in training camp.

“This a hardworking, close-knit group," Anderson said. "We’ve got a good base to start from, and we’re not counting on one or to guys to step up and say, 'Hey, we’re going to put the team on our back.' It’s going to take all 20 guys here pulling on the rope.”

When watching the way Anderson works on and off the ice, Granato doesn’t look at the veteran as a 40-year-old.

“I’m very impressed with Craig," Granato said. "At his age, I mean I wouldn’t know his age. "He’s competing like a young guy, and to stay in this league you have to have that rookie mentality every year.”

Vinnie Hinostroza was tied with Dylan Cozens for the preseason scoring lead. The winger had two goals and two assists in exhibition play, and will start the season on a line with Casey Mittelstadt and Jeff Skinner. Skinner likes what Hinostroza brings to the ice.

“He’s got a lot of speed, he’s good on the forecheck and he’s pretty skilled too," Skinner said of his linemate on Thursday. "He doesn’t get as much credit for that as he is, because he makes good plays in tight areas.”

The Sabres will scratch Will Butcher, John Hayden and Arttu Ruotsalainen for the first game.

This past season, Montreal went to the Stanley Cup Final with Carey Price and Shea Weber. Price is away from the team for personal reasons, and Weber is out for the season with an injury and may never play again.

Jake Allen was in net against the Leafs, making 28 saves. That means Samuel Montembeault will get the start for the Canadiens on Thursday.

Rick Jeanneret will start his final season broadcasting Sabres hockey with the first two games of the year.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m. ET when they’ll be joined by Granato, Anderson and Rasmus Dahlin.

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