After looking at Curtis Lazar yesterday, today for the Over/Under game I turn my attention to Craig Anderson.
Instilled as the Ottawa Senators’ #1 goalie, at least to start the season, the pressure will be on Anderson to have a bounce-back season after a sub-par 2o13-14 season. The stat that I have chosen to use as the over/under stat for Anderson is Save percentage.
I don’t think Anderson will be able to approach the astronomical .941 SP he posted in the lockout shortened 2013 season, while he can’t possibly repeat the dreadful .911 SP he posted last year.
Whether or not Anderson is still the starting goalie at mid-season or later will be determined by that number, and his ability to make up for inevitable defensive lapses. In the “Pesky Sens” era, he was a big reason the Senators stayed in games and were able to earn that self-imposed moniker.
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Last season, Anderson was a victim of not only bad defensive play around him, but also has to shoulder more than his fair share of the blame for the Senators’ lack of success. I seem to be in the minority on that last point, but Anderson was dreadful at keeping the teams in games and he would have at least one bad goal in almost every game he played that put the Senators out of contention or snuff a comeback attempt.
Armed with a 3 year extension, the Senators have committed to Anderson over the long term, but the club has not ruled out finding a new home if it doesn’t work out or if Robin Lehner assumes the #1 role.
The number I think Anderson needs to get to for the Senators to be competitive and make the playoffs is .920.
That would put him among the top 15 or so goalies, and it would give the Senators a fighting chance.
Do I think he can bounce back to that level? Well in a word, NO. I am not confident in his ability to be consistent enough, but I will grant you that he has played the best hockey in his career when the expectations weren’t high either personally or team-wise. Think of the season he was acquired, and his play down the stretch after the great purge of 2011, as well as the 2013 season after the injuries to Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson had a black cloud over the franchise.
If I were a betting man, I would take the UNDER and that Anderson’s Save percentage will be sub-.920, and that at some point Lehner will become the full time #1 and the torch will be passed.