Craig Anderson (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
The veteran netminder had to be sharp with the game on the line and the Red Wings bearing down on a 2-on-1, but as Anderson is proving, the Sens can be winners when he's on top of his game.
I'm starting to pick up a theme with the schizophrenic Senators: When Craig Anderson is having a good season, Ottawa is having a good season.
The veteran netminder reinforced that point last night in a 3-1 victory over Detroit, stoning Tomas Jurco on a 2-on-1 with a stacked-pad save right out of the 1980s:
Not bad, eh?
Amazing to think this was the same goaltender who got strafed all of last season, but that's been the trend since the Illinois native got to Ottawa in 2010-11. Anderson has gone good year-bad-year every time, meaning last season's .911 save percentage was no harbinger of future deeds: now's he rocking a mark of .939 and historically, it's not an aberration.
The only difference is that so far, Anderson has platooned with Robin Lehner, whose numbers aren't as strong except in the win column: both have three victories and a couple losses, while Anderson has played one more game. And one of Anderson's losses was a setback against Chicago where I recall thinking, "how are the Senators even in this game?" Anderson was the answer.
Are the Senators a playoff team? It's certainly possible, if not a bit improbable. Ottawa is a horrid possession team and doesn't have an elite No. 1 center on the roster right now, but they do have one of the game's premier offensive blueliners in captain Erik Karlsson and Anderson has proven in the past what solid goaltending can bring to the squad. In that sense, they're a lot like Montreal and we saw last season how far that combination can take a team in the East.
If Anderson is indeed having one of his "on" years, this squad will be dangerous.