First off, let me preface this by saying I am in now way jumping off the Craig Anderson bandwagon, nor do I necessarily agree with many of the points I will be bringing forward in this article. I am simply looking at the bigger picture. Now, on with it.
When it comes to awarding the Vezina Trophy, (or any other NHL award for that matter), games played is a big factor in determining who should win and if a player should be in consideration for that award. The arguments will be made for a couple of NHL awards this season, most notably the Hart and Vezina. Yesterday I weighed in with my opinion on the Hart Trophy race, and a week or so ago I also handicapped the chances of Craig Anderson still winning the Vezina despite possibly playing in just over or just under 50% of his team’s games.
The optimist would look at that article and say “Two goalies have won the award playing 52% of their team’s games, so Anderson still has a shot” while the Pessimist would argue that it has been almost 30 years since it has happened.
And in the media spotlight, there have been arguments either way. Anderson still had a lot of support , given his extraordinary play and the fact that he is so far ahead of all his counterparts when it comes to two major statistical categories that do not rely on volume of games played: GAA and SP.
For those that rely simply on stats without watching as many games as they should, Anderson would be a logical choice. And I am not saying he still isn’t.
However, with the spotlight of a nation on him, on Hockey Night in Canada and also on the NHL Network in the US, this happened:
With the game still within reach for the Senators, Anderson allowed Nazen Kadri’s shot to get through him and make the game 3-1. Could Ottawa have come back? Well they didn’t score another goal on James Reimer, but without a doubt this was a back-breaking goal for the Senators.
And I am not blaming Anderson for the loss, as some people calling into the post-game show on the TEAM1200 did. I would like to think those are the vocal minority and that the vast majority of Senators fans realize what he has done for this team this season.
However, for those who are not watching Anderson on a daily basis, that goal could swing their votes. The Vezina is voted on by General Managers, so at least it will not be left in the hands of the media. With so many Ottawa games tucked into the middle of Sportcentre and not available nationally, this was Anderson’s chance to shine and show that he does indeed deserve the nod. Instead, he was overshadowed by Reimer’s 49 save performance at the opposite end of the ice.
Seeing that goal go in at such an inopportune time, combined with the quantity of games played might just swing some votes who might have been cast in Anderson’s favor to go a different direction such as Sergei Bobrovsky or Henrik Lundqvist.
It is unfortunate, and I hope it doesn’t happen, but that is the first thought that came to mind after digesting the fact that the Leafs had clinched a playoff spot on Ottawa’s home ice.