Reasons for Optimism: Goalie Tandem
The 2013-2014 Ottawa Senators season was a disappointment. Entering year four of the Senate Reform, there is much uncertainty. However, there are also several reasons to smile. This is the third post of five outlining reasons for optimism.
Goaltending was not the strongest trait of the 2013-2014 Ottawa Senators. But considering the lack of defense and overall under performance of the team, it was certainly not the primary area for concern. In fact, between Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, Sens fans have a lot to feel good about this upcoming season.
Last season was certainly not a career best for Anderson. He struggled, much like the rest of the team, with a 3.00 GAA and .911 SV%. These are not terrible numbers, but they are not what we're used to seeing from him. Fans shouldn't build their opinion on Anderson based on last season alone. His averages with the Sens are quite impressive: 2.34 GAA and .926 SV%. He was arguably the reason that the Sens made it to the playoffs in 2012 and 2013.
He has the capability of winning games for the Sens that they have no business winning. There is no reason to think that he will not regain that form this season. He is, after all, playing for a contract. As he approaches UFA status in 2015, it's hard not to think he will have a little extra motivation.
And if for some reason, he cannot get the job done, we have a very capable backup ready to take the lead.
This past season was no treat for Robin Lehner either. He put up similar numbers to Craig Anderson: 3.06 GAA and .913 SV%. But this season was about more than numbers for Lehner. This was the first full year that Lehner spent in Ottawa. While he was technically the backup goalie, he played roughly 40% of the games. This is a big step in his career.
Bryan Murray has made it known that Lehner is the goalie of the future, and Sens fans saw a big leap towards their future with Lehner getting a permanent spot on the team. As a young goalie, he certainly benefited from being on an NHL team full-time, and learning from a professional NHL goaltender in Craig Anderson.
As big of a step as this was, Lehner needs to get more playing time if he is going to develop into the goalie we all think he will be. Sitting on the bench for another season will do him no good. Sens fans can expect him to get a little more playing time this season, as Anderson's contract winds down and the team starts to make way for Lehner.
Even if Anderson does have a solid year, he is likely gone by the end of next season. It won't be long before Lehner is no longer the goalie of the future, but the goalie of the present.