The Ottawa Senators have had many goaltenders come through the organization in their 25-year history, many didn’t stay very long with the franchise, but some have had a lasting impact.
The top three goaltenders selected made an impact at different points in the team’s young history. Between them, they have 107 playoff games and a Stanley Cup Finals appearance. These goaltenders have had success playing for the Senators’ organization and have paved the way for more history to be made in the years ahead.
3. Ray Emery
Picking the third best goalie in Senators franchise history is a tough task. There is Ron Tugnutt, who got Ottawa started on its 11-year run of making the playoffs. There’s Damian Rhodes, who took over mid-streak and, like Tugnutt, helped Ottawa enjoy success during its leaner years. Then there is Ray Emery, who wasn’t in Ottawa for long but made an impact.
Ultimately, the decision to go with Emery comes down to the fact he led the Senators to their one and only Stanley Cup Finals appearance against the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006-07 season. While the Senators came away empty handed, it shouldn’t reflect poorly on Emery who posted a 2.26 goals against average and .907 save percentage in the series, but couldn’t get any help from an Ottawa offence that scored six goals in its four losses.
But take away his playoff success and his performance still ranks among the best in Ottawa’s (brief) history.
He played in 134 games between 2002-03 and 2007-08 (fifth in franchise history), picking up 71 wins (fourth most) and eight shutouts (sixth most). Those numbers were buoyed by his fourth-best .907 save percentage, which is just seven percentage points behind second-best Robin Lehner, and his fifth-best 2.71 GAA.
Of course, who could forget the infamous brawl of 2007 between the Senators and the Buffalo Sabres (not that a brawl makes someone best-of worthy)? While the lasting image for some is of Chris Drury sprawled out on the ice after taking a devastating hit from Chris Neil, for most, it’s of Emery fighting Martin Biron and Andrew Peters that persists.
That sequence perfectly encapsulates Emery’s time in Ottawa. He had the talent to be Ottawa’s starter of the future, but the extracurricular’s he involved himself in – both on- and off-ice – proved too much of a distraction.
2. Patrick Lalime
Coming in second on our list is Patrick Lalime, who took over as the Senators’ starting goaltender just as the team was becoming relevant and competitive. Over his five seasons with the Senators, Lalime set numerous franchise records, some of which are still standing.
Patrick Lalime is the Sens all-time leader in games (283)…wins (146)…and shutouts (30)
— Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally) February 19, 2011
Lalime was drafted 156th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was traded to the Senators in June of 1999 in exchange for Ted Donato and Antti-Jussi Niemi (not to be confused with Dallas Stars’ goaltender Antti Niemi). Lalime split crease duties with Ron Tugnutt for most of the 1999-00 season until the Senators traded Tugnutt for Tom Barasso. After the trade, Barasso took over, and Lalime was the backup during the Senators’ first-round loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Lalime took over as number one for the 2000-01 season. He handled it well going 36-19-5 in 60 games, leading the Senators to another first round series matchup against the Leafs. Their Ontario rivals got the best of Ottawa again with the Senators losing in four games.
The next season Lalime went 27-24-8 to reach the playoffs. Lalime played the best playoff series of his career in the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers, allowing only two goals in a five-game series win. In the second round, the Senators were bumped out of the playoffs by the Leafs in seven games.
Lalime set a franchise record in the 2002-03 season with 39 wins. That year he made his first All-Star Game appearance, and the Senators won the Presidents’ Trophy. After defeating the New York Islanders in five and the Flyers in six games, the Senators lost in seven to the eventual Stanley Cup winning New Jersey Devils.
In 2003-04, Lalime finished with a 25-23-7 record. Once again, the Battle of Ontario ensued as they met the Leafs in the first round. For the fourth time in five years the Leafs knocked the Senators out of the playoffs, this time in seven games. Lalime was pulled in Game 7, his last as a Senator.
That summer the Senators signed Dominik Hasek, ending Lalime’s career in Ottawa. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues for a 2005 conditional 4th round pick (Ilya Zubov).
— NextSportStar.com (@NextSportStar) January 26, 2017
Lalime left the Senators as the franchise’s all-time leader in regular season games played (283), wins (146), and shutouts (30). Over his time with the Senators, Lalime finished with a 2.32 goals-against average (4th lowest in franchise history) and a .908 save percentage (8th highest). He had great postseason stats with a 1.77 GAA and a .926 save percentage in 41 playoff games.
1. Craig Anderson
Selecting the best goaltender in the Senators’ 25-year history was no easy task, evident by some excellent play by Emery and Lalime. In his seven seasons with the Senators, Anderson holds numerous franchise records, including best save percentage.
Anderson was drafted twice, first 77th overall in the 1999 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames, then
re-entered the draft in 2001 after the Flames decided not to sign him. In the 2001 NHL Draft, Anderson was selected in the third round again, but this time 73rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks. He had a few stops around the NHL before arriving in Ottawa, playing with the Florida Panthers and the Colorado Avalanche. In 2010, general manager Bryan Murray made a move that would define the Senators franchise from that point forward, acquiring Anderson from the Avalanche in exchange for Brian Elliott.
The move to the Senators solidified the goaltending position in the nation’s capital. Until Anderson’s arrival, the team struggled to find any consistency in the goaltending position. In the three seasons following the 2007 Stanley Cup run, the Senators had six different goalies playing for the team.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) October 31, 2016
Traded to the Senators from the Avalanche on February 11th, 2011, the move helped Anderson’s confidence as he put up, at that time, a career high 0.939 save percentage and 2.05 GAA in his first 18 starts with the Senators. From that point forward Anderson would never dip below a 0.911 save percentage and the revolving door of goaltenders in Ottawa finally stopped.
Not coincidentally, Anderson’s best season with the Senators came at the same time the team had their longest playoff run since the trip to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals. It was in the shortened 2012-13 season where Anderson put up a very impressive 0.941 save percentage and 1.69 GAA and was fourth in Vezina Trophy consideration. That season, the Senators made it to the second round of the playoffs, getting eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Anderson constantly faced internal competition for the starting position with the Senators. Ben Bishop, arriving in the 2011-12 season and Robin Lehner, drafted by the Senators all pushed Anderson, but the organization chose to put their confidence behind the Park Ridge, Illinois native time after time.
Why the Sens were okay with keeping Craig Anderson and trading Robin Lehner to a division rival. My TSN.ca piece http://t.co/L45DQGCfZb
— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) October 8, 2015
Now 35 years old, time is running out for Anderson to lead his team to the Stanley Cup Finals. With a solid foundation and a great system in place by head coach Guy Boucher, there is plenty of reason to believe that Anderson will be apart of a deep playoff run in the not too distant future.