As the start of the NHL season quickly approaches, there’s one particularly intriguing storyline to follow for Carolina Hurricanes’ goaltender Frederik Andersen. Hockey Reference shared in a tweet that Andersen can break the record for the most wins by a goalie in their first 500 career games played if he can rattle off at least 12 wins in his next 21 games. The record is currently held by Braden Holtby who had 293 wins in his first 500 games played.
Andersen currently sits at 282 wins in 479 games, including 52 wins in 86 games for the Hurricanes. While he’s battled a few injuries during his first two years in Raleigh, he’s given the Hurricanes Vezina Trophy-level goaltending when healthy. The tandem of him and Antti Raanta has proven to be a dynamic force in the net for head coach Rod Brind’Amour over the past two seasons. The duo brought home the Jennings Trophy, awarded annually to the goaltenders having played at least 25 games for the team allowing the fewest goals in the NHL, in the 2021-22 season.
Andersen Needs to Have Hot Start
If Andersen wants to break this record he will have to get off to a hot start early in the 2023-24 season. While their first 10 games feature five matchups against teams that did not make the playoffs last season, the Hurricanes will have seven road contests in the first 10 games including a stretch of six straight.
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There’s been a lot made of the Hurricanes’ road struggles in the playoffs the past few seasons including going winless on the road in the 2021-22 postseason, however, they’ve faired very well on the road during the regular season for the majority of the Brind’Amour era. In 16 road games played last season, Andersen finished with an impressive 10 wins. If he can find success on the road early this season his chances of breaking the record will skyrocket.
Right Place, Right Time for Andersen
While Andersen had a lot of success while he was a member of the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs, I believe he joined the Hurricanes at the perfect time in his career. After having a couple of tough postseason performances in his final few years in Toronto, it made sense for both sides to move on to try to get over the postseason hump. After his five-year stint in Toronto, he signed a two-year $9 million deal with the Hurricanes.
As I mentioned earlier Andersen has played at an extremely high level when healthy, producing 52 wins in 86 games. I believe several factors have allowed him to thrive in Carolina, including the benefit of having such a strong defensive unit in front of him, as well as being part of a strong tandem with Raanta that allows each veteran to get plenty of rest.
Prediction for Andersen
While it’s hard to predict how quick of a start Andersen and the Hurricanes will get off to in 2023-24, I will be surprised if they don’t come out firing on all cylinders and rack up quite a few wins in the first few weeks of the season as they look to get the bad taste of the postseason out of their system. I expect Andersen to get the first few starts of the season and if he’s playing well I wouldn’t be surprised if he rides the hot hand for 6-8 games before Raanta sees his first start of the season.
I fully expect Andersen to break the record this season. I’m going to predict him to get 14 wins in his first 21 games played, which would put him at 296 wins in his first 500 games in the NHL. Regardless of how the season and record chase go for him, it says a lot about the success he has had throughout his career that he’s in this position. It will be interesting to watch this storyline as the Hurricanes begin the season against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 11.