The Vezina Trophy: Steady Freddie the Acrobatic Andersen
You better believe Maple Leafs Frederik Andersen is in the Vezina talk for this upcoming season. He’s been in the conversation the last two years and with the improvements Kyle Dubas has made over the summer have me thinking this is Andersen’s big year to shine. In 2017-18 Freddie was fourth overall in Vezina votes and had a career year in both wins, shutouts and shots faced/saved. Andersen set a Maple Leafs record with 38 wins in a season and with the improved roster I’d be willing to bet he breaks 40 wins and shatters his record.
Last season the Leafs tender was red hot most of the season; the team had a breakdown which ultimately chewed up Andersen’s stats. Overall his stats were as steady as his game play; solid. The Maple Leafs struggled on the penalty kill last season and this was the only area where both Freddie and the Buds penalty killers need to improve, and by quite a bit. As good as the power play was it actually gave up six shorthanded goals which is also something that needs to be addressed.
.927 at even strength
.887 on the powerplay
.849 on the penalty kill
You can certainly see the numbers Andersen puts up at even strength are spectacular. Not so much on the penalty kill and man advantage; quite poor. Is this all his fault? Of course not, the Leafs as a whole need to be smarter when taking that extra risky chance on the power play and need to be better at getting the puck out of the zone when they get a chance. Too many times did I see someone flop and fumble the puck trying to get it out Rip the damn thing up the boards and send it the length of the ice!
It goes without saying that Babcock and the Leafs coaching staff weren’t overly keen on Garret Sparks and his ability to go in and give Freddie a rest when the Leafs play a weaker team. The longer the season went on, the less it seemed Babs had any thought of playing the Leafs backup goaltender.
Hopefully this season is a bit different and the Leafs can continue to play Andersen his onslaught of games but also give him a rest when needed.
As we’ve seen the last three seasons; every point is crucial come seasons end. The Leafs have gotten the short end of the stick having to play Boston twice and Washington in round 1. Is the NHL ever going to change the playoff format/structure? It’s by far the worst possible setup and makes absolutely no sense to me. Why they haven’t implemented the 1vs8, 2vs7, 3vs6, 4vs5 format is beyond me. We’ve made all these other changes to the game yet the battle for the Cup is the most important part and you have teams that are getting over 100 points playing against each other in the first round?
Bottom line is the Leafs need to secure as many points as they can and not fizzle any easy points away. What looks like no Gardiner, Zaitsev or Hainsey on the defensive end; the Leafs should be vastly improved. (Insert Barrie and Ceci). With the Leafs struggling on the penalty kill, removing Kadri and his penalty minutes may help the Leafs keep the puck out of the net.
So what do you think, 40+ wins for Andersen and an improved defense in front of him…can he take the Vezina?
Thanks for reading,
Have a great day!