Fast forward one season, and the tables have certainly turned. Barring a few very good performances here and there, the duo of Anderson and Lehner has really failed to put any consistency together, and the result is that the Senators are floundering once again, taking two steps forward and then two steps back.
Its not just that the Senators are allowing more goals, it is the way they are going in. Over the first month of the season, the defense was in disarray, and that resulted in more quality scoring chances against. Understandable that the goaltenders struggled as well it that situation. However, in the last 6 weeks or so, the defense has tightened up and don’t seem to be allowing as many quality scoring chances.
The problem is, too many of those chances, both good and not so good, are going in. The saves are not being made, and even when the goalies are playing well, it seems like they can’t make the save at the right time to either stem the momentum of the opposition or allow the Senators to get and keep momentum.
Last season, the save percentage of the goaltenders as a collective was .935, while this year it is just .912. While that total from last season was out of this world and you would expect a bit of a regression, it has sunk to a ridiculous low. Lehner ranks 11th among all qualified NHL goalies in terms of save percentage, while the #1 goalie, Anderson, ranks 34th.
Lehner had a rough start against Carolina, his second rough outing in 3 starts. But getting the net once every couple of weeks or so doesn’t give him much of a chance to get into a rhythm. Anderson’s play of late against the likes of Montreal, the New York Rangers and Tampa leaves something to be desired. In each of those games, there have been one or more goals that should never go in on an NHL goalie and that trend has to stop and stop soon.
You could argue that, for example, in the Rangers game a week ago, the Senators scored just once and even a couple of bad goals from Anderson wouldn’t have made the difference. However, it was a 1-1 game before Rick Nash‘s bad angle goal made it 2-1 and I don’t know what Anderson was doing on the Derek Stepan goal that made it 3-1 just before the end of the second period. Those goals are deflating to a team and it isn’t any wonder why the Senators didn’t come back in the third period.
The Senators are in the top half of the league in terms of goals for, but it is the goals against that needs to get better, and it starts from the net out. Its not the number of saves they make, its the type and the timing of the ones they don’t make that is the problem.
The Senators are behind more often than not (scored on first in 31 of 52 games) and they are one of the worst teams at holding the lead (.700 when leading after 2 periods, 26th in the league).The masked men have to shoulder a big responsibility for that. Not all of it, but a lot of it.