Silver Nuggets: I like Craig Anderson

Craig Anderson, chilling amidst chaos. - Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

What can we say about Ottawa's goalie this year that doesn't sound superlative or hyperbolic?

In last night's GDT, user KnockSomeSensIntoYou made one of those simple points that often get overlooked:

Seriously, can we talk about how great Andy has been playing.

I feel like he’s been shot down cause of Karlsson’s play.

And yeah, Erik Karlsson is the best defenseman in the league right now--maybe even the best player in the league--but when you woke up this morning, Craig Anderson was leading or tied for the lead in all goaltending categories. You've probably already seen the visual evidence, but it's here if you haven't. And it's not one of those fluke statistics, either--the Senators have played 13 games and Anderson has started 11 of them. He's legit.

In fact, he's so legit that if he keeps performing at this level, he'd be the clear Vezina Trophy winner. The Senators have never even had a goalie nominated for those--not even Dominik Hasek, in his great '05-06 season with the team. (Anderson's numbers, by the way, would annihilate Hasek's if they held up, and I think everyone would agree Hasek played behind a significantly better team.) Consider this: Anderson has only lost four games this year--two of those in overtime--and none have been by more than a goal. A little more offense from the team, and Anderson could be 11-0-0 on the year. That's ridiculous.It's not an exaggeration in any way to say Anderson has given his team a chance to win every game he's started this year.

And of course, there's the matter of the blueline. Anderson's defensemen have been solid all year long, and having Karlsson helps everyone be better, but for much of this season, the team was playing with three rookies from the AHL (Though Andre Benoit is 29, he had only appeared in 8 NHL games before this year) in front of their goalie. That's been reflected in the number of shots he has seen--the Senators are currently 4th in the NHL in shots allowed, with 410.

Anderson's job has not been easy this year--but he has made it look so every night. Perhaps that's why it's so easy to take his play for granted. He's easily been the team's most consistent player. Most of his saves aren't of the exciting variety because he doesn't have to expend a lot of energy to make them--he's already in position and tracking the puck. We expect Anderson to simply see pucks and read plays and be in the way because he's done it for 11 games in a row now, and did it for a long stretch last season, and did it in his first game in a Sens sweater. It doesn't help that Andy is such a low-key personality himself--the polar opposite of Robin Lehner, it seems--and his nonchalant manner only encourages our own. Karlsson is flashy and brash and will lead a rush whenever he damn well feels like it, but Andy just makes a hard save look easy, makes sure there's no rebound, and gets set for the next shot after the faceoff.

All this belies what kind of goaltending Sens fans are seeing from Anderson. His Senators career has probably provided the best stretch of play the Sens have seen--with apologies to Lalime's playoff shutout streak, Hasek's win-loss record, and Brian Elliott's winning streak--because it seems obvious that even if his numbers dip, he level of play almost certainly will not. If Anderson is the late bloomer he's looking to be, this year should cement his status as the best goaltender the organization's ever had, and put them in a position to have possibly the best goaltending tandem in the league once Lehner moves up permanently. With a duo like that, wins are sure to follow.

Senators news:

  • Amelia recaps last night's Anderson-led shutout of the Sabres, and sneaks in some awesome disses about Tyler Myers. [S7S]
  • In case you've missed the top five of our Top 25 Under 25 series it's an embarrassment of riches: [Cowen #5] [Silfverberg #4] [Lehner #3] [Turris #2] [Who is #1?]
  • Speaking of Mika Zibanejad, he did a pretty fun Q&A on Twitter recently. User B_T was kind enough to compile it so that you don't have to sort through Twitter. [FanPost]
  • Speaking of Anderson, he gave all the credit for last night's win to Karlsson. Which isn't preposterous, because Karlsson is awesome. [Senators Extra]
  • Speaking of Amelia, she has some thoughts on Bell's "Let's Talk" campaign. Please take the time to read this; mental illness is more important than corporate rage. [S7S]
  • Scoring chances from last night's game via The 6th Sens. [6th Sens]
  • Here's a weird story out of Binghamton that doesn't involve Robin Lehner: Matt Weinstein of the Binghamton Press ^ Sun-Bulletin is accused of making up quotes with some really damning evidence. [The Saratogan]
  • Alfie, whose Godhood has recently been confirmed, says that the team can score without Spezza. Are you going to be the one to doubt Alfie? [Senators Extra]
  • Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star points out how silly Ottawa's attempts to keep Leafs fans out of ScotiaBank Place are. Of course, as a Leafs fan, he does it in the most smug, condescending way possible. Remember, people, even a Psychology 101 student knows that putting someone else down to make yourself feel superior is simply a sign of personal insecurity. Not coincidentally, stop chanting "Leafs suck!" when the Leafs aren't in the building. [Toronto Star]
  • Finally, the prediction panel does not feel optimisitc about tonight, with only Mendes predicting a win. [Senators Extra]

League News

  • The Blue Jackets fired Scott Howson last night, presumably because getting worse after trading your franchise player is somehow unexpected. Anyway, they replaced him with Jarmo Kekalainen, who spent five years as director of player personnel for the Sens before moving on. Most recently, as GM of the Finnish team Jokerit in SM-Liiga, he signed Erik Karlsson during the lockout (DAMN YOU, BETTMAN). Karlsson is still leading that league in points by a defenseman. That trick will probably not work in Columbus. [Puck Daddy]
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