Well this is fun, isn't it?
The Ottawa Senators have managed to defy the experts once again. As of this morning, they are leading their Eastern Conference Quarter Final match up with the New York Rangers 3-2. The go ahead win came Saturday night on the back of a 41 save performance by Craig Anderson. The Sens were able to get an early goal from Jason Spezza (who also got the empty net goal) and that was all they needed.
After surrendering 4 goals in MSG in game 1, the Rags have fired 126 shots on net since that night, yet have only managed 5 goals. 5. In 4 games. That's all. That's a 0.960 SV%. His 0.943 overall playoff SV% is comparable to Pekka Rinne's 0.944, and that guy just ended the Detroit Red Wings' season.
Coming into these playoffs, Anderson was a bit of an unknown entity. He had only one playoff series under his belt, with an upstart young Colorado Avalanche team in 2010. While his team fell to a heavily favoured San Jose team, they managed to take the series to six games, and Andy put up a 0.933 save percentage. He did his part, but his team was overmatched.
This year, heading into the 1 vs 8, one of the main reasons experts gave the edge to the Rangers was because of Henrik Lundqvist, and deservedly so. Hank is likely the Vezina winner, if not runner up. He's posted a 0.945 save percentage these playoffs, and has made some amazing timely saves. With a goalie like Hank, this is almost expected. The only chance the Sens had in this series was for Anderson to equal Henrik, and steal a few games. He's done that.
In a wonderful spot on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday, Anderson's focus was highlighted, showing him on the ice first, before the zambonis were finished surfacing, and showing him in his zone in the dressing room before the game. One thing is for sure, when Anderson is on his game, he really embodies the identity of the team. He's a gamer. He's a battler, and he's ultra competitive. He's also, for now, being underrated by the rest of the league as well as by the "experts". This allows him to do what the Sens have done all year: Surprise opponents.
Here's hoping he continues to do so.
Links after the jump!
- Line Rushes at practice were interesting this morning: Michalek-Spezza-Stone/Silfverberg, Foligno-Turris-Alfredsson, Greening-Smith-Neil, Konopka-O'Brien-Condra [Steve Lloyd Twitter] Interesting what is going on with the top line, and excellent to see Alfie taking a regular turn on his line. At the end of practice Alfie confirmed he would be playing tonight.
- Prediction Panel: Lots of Sens optimism this time around! [Sens Extra]
- Further to my comment above about the return of Daniel Alfredsson, he took part in a 70 minute practice yesterday and said he was hopeful to play. Will be a huge boost. [Ken Warren]
- Plenty has been made in this series about Jason Spezza and his inability to break through Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. Here are some quotes from him about trying not to put too much pressure on himself. [Allen Panzeri]
- The "Alfie" chant at the 11:00 minute mark of games at Scotiabank Place is becoming quite the story. NHL.com has the story up on their main page, with some quotes from Alfredsson himself. Pretty cool that the idea started on Facebook and Twitter and now the whole league is noticing how much we love our captain. [NHL.com]
- Cool story from Steffe G:son over at the 6th Sens about the arrival of the Silfver Surfer (who was wearing #33 in practice today) complete with AMAZING PICTURE (seriously, click the link just for the picture). Man this city is hyped for this kid. [6th Sens]
- Mark was the Oprah of green arrows this morning in Ups and Downs, and who can blame him, the team has been amazing. If you didn't catch it, here it is! [SilverSevenSens]
- After being an overwhelming favourite to win the Stanley Cup once Sidney Crosby came back from injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves out of the playoffs this morning at the hand of their cross-state rivals. If you are Ray Shero, where do you go from here? James Mirtle looks at the Pens situation. [Globe and Mail]
- An interesting link within that Mirtle article, here is a list of the best save percentages of goalies in the playoffs in the last 3 years who have played 5 or more games. Really interesting stuff. Notice who is at #3! [Hockey Reference]
- Another Cup favourite found itself on the other end of a series loss last night, as the Canucks lost in overtime to the Kings. The Kings advance in just 5 games, and the President's Trophy winners are left with a huge number of questions, the most pressing being in goal. [Puck Daddy]
- Look, here's a disclaimer: Ryan Lambert is a troll. I'm not sure who he cheers for, because he seems to treat every team with disdain. THAT SAID, sometimes his What We Learned one liners can be funny, so I'm going to link this week's here. There are also usually some interesting things in there. [Puck Daddy]
- Lady Byng Nominees released. Jordan Eberle, Matt Moulson and Brian Campbell. Have to think it goes to Campbell. Averaged the most minutes per night in the NHL and had 6 PIM all season. Playing defence. Wild. [NHL.com]
- Lastly, the Selke Nominees have been released. No surprises really. David Backes, Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk. Backes would have my vote! [NHL.com]
- Game of the Night: Obviously big game 6 at Scotiabank Place. Have to think that place is going to be rocking. Here's hoping the Sens can close it out. More preview later today in GDT.
- The late game should be insane as well. Game 6 for Coyotes and Blackhawks in the Mad House on Madison. All 5 games have gone to overtime, a record. As the late game, should be a great one.