James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Craig Anderson sensation

Thursday, January 31, 2013


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Hockey’s a funny sport full of lucky (and naturally, just as many unlucky) bounces. So with that in mind, maybe it makes sense that a Wednesday night slate with just four games was so rife with intriguing storylines. Even a lowly game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers (which needed overtime for one team to score more than one stinking goal) had some interesting components.

You might not view the lead of this article to be sexy (braces for Ice Girl ogling reference), but I must start with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson.

ANDY THE GOOD

Look, there have been plenty of flashes of brilliance from Anderson in his interesting journey to become a No. 1 starter (even a sometimes seemingly soon-to-be-usurped one).

He compiled a .935 and .924 save percentage as a backup with the Florida Panthers. He frustrated the San Jose Sharks in his first bit of work with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2010 playoffs, most notably pitching an amazing 51-save shutout in Game 3 of that series before San Jose eventually overwhelmed the over-matched Avalanche.

Anderson even put the heat on Henrik Lundqvist in last year's playoffs, compiling an impressive .933 save percentage in that seven-game series but eventually just barely falling short to a superior New York Rangers team.*

Still, his detractors might say that the cons at least balance out the pros.

ANDY THE BAD

He only has two "workhorse" seasons, compiling 71 games played in 2009-10 and 63 last season. He bombed badly in his first season as the go-to guy with Colorado in 2010-11, prompting the Avalanche to trade him to Ottawa.

Oh yeah, he also cut his finger preparing chicken last season, forcing him to miss some time. Yup, he's also known for gawking at Ice Girls (I have to admit, though ... isn't it surprising more goalies/players haven't been caught doing that?) He's also one of the rare NHL players to be drafted twice (once in 1999 by Calgary, one upon re-entry in 2001 with Chicago ... both times in the third round.)

CONCLUSIONS?

It’s probably overly simplistic to argue that Anderson is a dichotomy in net. He’s not the Two-Face of goalies in that a flip of the coin could result in handsome Aaron Eckhart dimple-chinned charm and the opposite would be a hideously charred visage. (If anyone’s guilty of that, it’s either Ondrej Pavelec or Semyon Varlamov.)

Really, though, it shows some of the lessons from Anderson’s career: don’t put too much weight in small sample sizes, but don’t count out a goalie who has shown quite a few flourishes of strong work.

There’s absolutely no way that Anderson maintains his .967 save percentage and 5-0-1 pace, unless he really butchers himself while preparing a meal and simply doesn’t play again.

My guess is that the Ottawa Senators will slow down a bit, but head coach Paul MacLean seems to be pretty clever when it comes to enhancing his assets’ strengths while attempting to camouflage their weaknesses. Perhaps turning Anderson from a streaky starter to a true franchise goalie will be his magnum opus, then.

* - Anderson's 13 playoff game save percentage is also .933. Impressive.

After the jump: an Avalanche of headaches, Zack Kassian’s pros and cons and much more.


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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien



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