As the Senators have reached the mid-way point of the season, it is time to sharpen those pencils and award the grades. As I did last year, I will be putting grades based on what was expected of the players this season versus their actual performance. Up first, the backbone of the team so far, the goaltenders.
Craig Anderson – A+
The Senators best and most consistent player through the first half of the season. Although derailed for he last two weeks with an ankle injury, Anderson has been at or near the top in all goaltending categories and is still considered a favorite for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie
STAT LINE: GAA: 1.49 (1st in NHL); SP: .952 (1st NHL) ; 8-4-2 record; 2 Shutouts
Ben Bishop – B+
It was a rocky start and a rockier finish to the first half for Bishop, but in between he was gold. After allowing a 5 spot to the Lightning in his first start, he didn’t allow more than two goals in any start until his start against the Leafs in game 24, when he allowed another 5. He lost a 1-0 decision as well as a 2-1 decision. Was great in relief of Anderson while splitting the duties with Lehner
STAT LINE: GAA: 2.54; SP: .925; 4-4-0 record; 3-0 in the shootout while stopping 13 of 15 shooters
Robin Lehner – A
Lehener was called up for the first time since being sent to Binghamton after the season started wihout having played a game. He got the call when Anderson went down and got two starts late in the first half. He was a victim of lack of offensive support, but he more than held his end of the bargain. He will start the first game of the second half and will likely start another game or two before Anderson is ready to resume his role. Bonus points to Lehner for (at least publicly) handling the Senators crowded crease so well, being the odd man out.
STAT LINE: GAA: 1.86; SP: .951; 0-0-2 record
If it wasn’t for the goalies, this Ottawa team would be pulling up the rear instead of in the thick of the playoff race. Overall, Ottawa has allowed the second fewest goals against per game in the NHL, a stat that has allowed them to withstand injuries and poor production elsewhere in the lineup.