The Ottawa Senators are an improving team and have a far better record at this stage of the season that many hockey pundits thought was possible. Part of the reason for the team’s success has been the goaltending of Craig Anderson and Anders Nilsson. Although there have been up-and-down games from each Senators’ goalie, for the most part, they have shown up each game and have given the team a chance to win.
In this post, I want to review Anderson’s recent games. He’s been playing better than his record for the past while, and if he continues – and his goalie partner in the tandem remains effective – the team has a chance to do much better than simply being the rebuilding team they were destined to become at the beginning of the season. Although making the playoffs seems like a longshot, stranger things have happened.
Anderson’s November Was Up-and-Down
After a 2-6-0 start to the season, Anderson has shown poise during the month of November and has gone 2-2-0 on his last four starts. He currently has a 2.96 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
His most recent game on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets was a tough test, but Anderson played well – only giving up a single goal. However, he got zilch for offensive help from his team and lost the game 1-0.
The 38-year-old goalie wasn’t especially busy during that game but made all the stops he needed to (18 in total), except one. And that was a deflected point shot. As noted, he can hardly be faulted for the single goal that beat him, it was deflected by Blue Jacket Oliver Bjorkstrand. It was a tough loss.
In his previous game, Anderson goaltended the Senators to a 2-1 overtime victory against the Montreal Canadiens. The Senators were outshot 26-14 after two periods, but the veteran Anderson held his team in the game and forced overtime, where Brady Tkachuk scored the winner.
In total, Anderson made 35 saves in the game with Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki scoring the only goal against him. Given that the Canadiens came into the game ranked eighth in the NHL with 3.43 goals per game, it was a solid performance.
On November 16, Anderson made 28 saves while losing 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres. He was good until the second period when he allowed two goals on only six shots. However, in the game prior, he had been solid against the New Jersey Devils when he stopped 21 of 23 shots and won 4-2. It’s been an up-and-down November for the aging net-minder. In the game prior, against the Carolina Hurricanes, he relieved Nielson and allowed four goals on 24 shots.
Where the Senators Goalie Situation Sits Currently
As it stands right now, Anders Nilsson has the best record of the tandem at 7-4-1, with a 2.63 GAA and a .928 save percentage. However, despite the disparity in records, it looks as if head coach D.J. Smith plans to play both goalies equally.
Let’s hope Anderson’s goaltending becomes more steady. If it does, could the Senators win as many games as they lose? That would be so much better than expected.
And, given that the Senators’ chances of making the postseason are slim, that’s probably a wise plan.
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