We all know what happened with the NHL All-Star Game last year. John Scott was voted in by the fans as a joke, he ended up going, and he had the time of his life. It was a mean-spirited joke that ended up working out well. And this year, fans have been looking for players that make it through the NHL’s voting loopholes to try to repeat the experience (Jean-Francois Berube, anyone?). I tried to think of players that fit that mould on the Sens, and I came up with bona fide NHLer Tom Pyatt, since if you ever criticize his play, a bunch of fans and media will point out to you that he has proven himself as a bona fide NHLer. Seriously, try it.
But then yesterday, Ian McLaren of The Score got me thinking:
Instead of wasting time voting for scrubs, I'm backing a player who deserves to be at All-Star Game & who could use a boost: Craig Anderson.— Ian McLaren (@iancmclaren) November 30, 2016
Truly, that makes sense. I kind of wish I’d thought of it. But now that I’ve been made aware, I want to draw attention to this. There’s two key points here: Anderson deserves to be there statistically, and it would be great from an off-ice point of view.
First of all, on the ice, Anderson has been stellar this year. And for many years. Michaela argued just yesterday that he’s the most underrated Senator. Among goalies with at least 10 games played (i.e. undisputed starters), he ranks 8th in save percentage with .930. He’s been there before, finishing 4th in 2008-09, 15th in 2009-10, 1st in 2012-13, and 11th in 2014-15. He’s closing in on a decade of being a top NHL goalie. He’s also done it on some pretty terrible teams, including the tanking Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators. As far as I’m aware, he’s the only goalie in NHL history to single-handedly win a playoff game. The Sharks outshot the Avalanche 50-16 on April 28, 2010, but the game went to OT tied 0-0, and then Dan Boyle scored on his own net so the Avs could win.
So far this season, Andy’s been the NHL’s first star of the week twice. He’s got three shutouts, two of them against high-flying teams in the Oilers and Rangers. He’s been a huge part of why the Sens are near the top of the league so far. And he wasn’t even on the recommended list of players to vote for. Bobby Ryan was on that list. The 5-9-0 Semyon Varlamov with a .904 save percentage was on the list. Even the 3-9-0 Brian Elliott, with an .885 save percentage was on that list. It just goes to show how underrated Andy is in the league’s eyes. He’s earned 13 votes for the Vezina in his career (three first-place votes), and has never finished top-three in Vezina voting. Probably because outside of maybe the lockout-shortened 2013 season (when he was injured half the season), he’s never been the best goalie. He’s just been very good for one of the league’s most forgotten teams.
But the other reason to vote for Anderson is probably the bigger one. The Anderson family could use some positive news. As most of us know, Nicholle Anderson was diagnosed with cancer before the season started, and she’s beginning treatment. Looking at nine-months-pregnant Danielle Scott enjoy the last all-star game tells me that it would probably be fun for the Andersons as well. There is a chance that the timing won’t work, but Anderson could always opt-out for extremely viable reasons. It would still be a nice gesture if he had to decline, and could be a big boost if he could attend.
I would love for this to happen for Andy. As a Sens fan, this season has cemented his place as greatest goalie in franchise history ahead of Patrick Lalime. As a fan of hockey, he’s been a great goalie this year. And as a human being, I think this would be a nice gesture in the face of extreme tragedy.
And if you’re still a fan of the joke votes, hey, there’s three other divisions you can vote for. You can vote 10 times per day up to January 2nd at NHL.com/vote.