When talking about elite goaltenders in the National Hockey League today, the usual suspects always come about.
Netminders like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Pekka Rinne, Roberto Luongo, Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson, Tuukka Rask, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc-Andre Fleury, and even a few others always get mentioned. While it is understandable why these names are thrown about, there seems to be one goaltender who has yet to really get his due.
This masked man would be Toronto Maple Leafs’ masked man Frederik Andersen. Andersen has been with the Leafs for three seasons and in that time, he has been everything and more for them.
For starters, one of the things that Andersen, 29, has done for this hockey club is win a lot of hockey games. Andersen has won 91 of the 162 games he has played with the Leafs so far, which is far better than what netminders before the 2016-17 season accomplished with the franchise.
With the way the standings are and the parity that exists in the league today, picking up two points whenever you can is an absolute must. Just look at the teams who in the last few seasons ended up missing the playoffs by one or two points.
It is stuff like that that is unbelievably demoralizing for both the franchise and its fanbase. It’s also tough for a team to know that they left points out on the table and that it ultimately end up costing them in the net.
With Andersen between the pipes, the Leafs go out and win. This season is a perfect example of this.
Andersen has won 20, which currently leads the league, of the 30 games that he has played in this year. The team has won 25 games as a whole this season, which means that he clearly gives this team the best chance to win on a nightly basis.
With him in net, they made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and are well on their way for making it three straight, something that has not happened in quite awhile for this franchise.
Secondly, this is a netminder that has posted more than solid save percentages despite facing a ton of shots almost every night. In his first season with the team, he had a .918 save percentage, last season he had the same percentage, and this season, he has a .923 save percentage.
These save percentages are actually quite astounding considering how many shots the Leafs give up in general. The team is currently 23rd in the league in shots allowed per game, which means that Andersen is doing more than his part when it comes to stopping the puck.
Lastly, despite that this team has the likes of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander and many other talented players, Andersen is the team’s most important player. Yes, putting the puck in the net is obviously very important, but if your goaltender cannot stop the puck and keep it out of your net, putting the puck in the net really won’t end up mattering.
Andersen deserves a lot of credit folks. It’s time to start paying attention to what he is doing for the Leafs because if he keeps it up, this team could be playing well into the spring.
*Photo: The Globe And Mail