The Leafs Need Andersen to be Huge the Rest of the way
By Patrick Hoffman
When it comes to the hockey world, many eyes turn towards the Toronto Maple Leafs at this time of the year.
Fans wonder where the team is at, if they'll make the playoffs, if they need to make a big trade to bolster their lineup, etc. It's a never ending cycle for those who are involved with and follow the blue and white hockey club.
One thing that everyone knows is that their netminder, Frederik Andersen, needs to rise to the occasion night in and night out as we head towards the playoffs. This team, though third in the Atlantic Division with 55 points (As of this writing on January 19, 2018), has been so inconsistent lately that the Boston Bruins went ahead and leapfrogged them into second place in the division.
Luckily for the Leafs, Andersen, 28. has been pretty steady this season. In fact, he might be the main reason why the Leafs are still in a playoff spot right now (January 19, 2018).
In 39 games this season (As of this writing on January 19, 2018), Andersen is 22-13-4 with a 2.68 goals against average, a .922 save percentage, and three shutouts. These numbers show that he is an above average starter that is capable of being even more in this league.
There are several reasons why Andersen's team needs him to be consistent the rest of the way. For starters, their defense has been porous this season.
The Leafs currently (January 19, 2018) have the fourth worst shots against average per game in the entire league. They allow an average of 34.1 shots per game, which definitely puts the team at risk of getting beaten badly if their goaltender is not up to the task.
Thus far at least, Andersen has done just fine when it comes to stopping pucks this season. With a save percentage of just over 92, it shows that he has no problem facing a lot of shots and he probably loves it as it keeps him in the game.
Secondly, the team's defense has not exactly been great this season. They miss a lot of assignments, cough up the puck a bunch, and make a lot of questionable plays.
This comes with the territory of having a young defensive corps. This is why having a "veteran" netminder between the pipes goes a long way in helping the team win hockey games.
Lastly, this Leafs need Andersen to be the man in goal simply because he is the right guy for this team. He's had a more than solid NHL career in 230 games (As of January 19, 2018) as he has won 132 games, has a 2.49 goals against average to go along with a .919 save percentage and 13 shutouts.
He may just be 28 years of age, but Andersen has already put up good numbers in this league. If he can continue to do that for the Leafs this season, the team should not only make the playoffs, but considered to be a threat to make it out of the first round because of the guy they have between the pipes.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.