Andersen hasn't played since March 19 after allowing four goals on 18 shots during a loss to the Calgary Flames. The Leafs decided to shut him down following that contest instead of having the veteran continue playing through the ailment.
“I reached a point where I just couldn’t feel comfortable in the net and pushing and stopping as hard as I needed to be aggressive,” Andersen told TSN's Kristen Shilton. “And it showed. It’s really hard to say stop.
"As a player and a competitor, you don’t want to admit it or say stop yourself. It was maybe going on for a little too long and I was just happy I caught it and it didn’t get any worse.”
Andersen missed nearly two weeks with a lower-body injury in late February. He wasn't himself after returning in early March, sporting a .876 save percentage over seven games before being shut down.
“Because of my position, there’s some stressful areas that my body gets into and that creates problems that were happening,” Andersen said. “But I caught it and got it fixed before it could have gotten any worse. So I’m relieved that it's going in the right direction, and turning toward getting back on the ice full time.”
Andersen still isn't ready to play, but he's getting closer.
“Getting back up to speed again, that’s the first challenge,” he said. “When you don’t skate and see pucks for a bit, that’s the final thing and the deciding factor (to play again). I have some time to get back up to speed again and hopefully see some games before playoffs.”
However, getting Andersen back into the lineup for some tuneup games prior to the playoffs will be challenging. He's on the long-term injured reserve, so his $5-million cap hit doesn't count. The Leafs used some of that flexibility to add Nick Foligno, David Rittich, and Ben Hutton at the trade deadline.
Toronto currently holds just over $1 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. If the injured Zach Hyman and Zach Bogosian are added to the LTIR, $3.25 million in space could be created. Even more could be freed up if a player or two are optioned down to the minors.
Andersen was producing his worst career season before going down. He's posted a .897 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average over 23 games this season.