Despite the many obstacles that have come their way this season, the Ottawa Senators still find themselves very much within playoff contention.
As the roller coaster that has been the Senators’ season continues, there are many areas in which the team is in desperate need of improvement. However, luckily for them, goaltending hasn’t been, is not, and most likely won’t be one of them for quite some time.
Best VS Most Valuable
This question has been raised many times this season. For a team that is dead last in the league in shots against per game, it has been bound to come up at some point. The question I’m referring to goes something like this:
“Is Craig Anderson Ottawa’s Best Player?”
Personally, there is one thing about this question that doesn’t sit well with me. If you look at the Ottawa Senators’ top guns, you will find the likes of Erik Karlsson, who currently sits 4th in the league in points, and Mike Hoffman, who currently sits 3rd in the NHL in goals per 60. Not to mention other players on the list like Bobby Ryan (33 pts), Mark Stone (31 pts), and Kyle Turris (28 pts). Comparing that list of players to that of a goaltender can be a tough way to measure exactly who is “best”, especially when Anderson isn’t even among the top 30 in the NHL for GAA.
Erik Karlsson could very well be a Hart trophy candidate, but Craig Anderson is this team's MVP.
— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) December 28, 2015
So, instead, I think it can be much easier to discuss the value that Anderson brings to Ottawa by asking – Is Craig Anderson Ottawa’s Most Valuable Player?
The Meaning of Value for the Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators currently sit dead last in the NHL in shots against per game with 34. At the time of this article being written, they have seven games in which they’ve allowed 40+ shots. To add to that, the Senators are also ranked 28th in the league in shots for per game.
Not only does that mean that Ottawa’s goaltending is busy night in and night out, but they aren’t exactly close in the shot competition. A prime example of that came in late December against the Florida Panthers when the Senators were outshot 40-16, but managed to salvage a point, losing 2-1 in a shootout.
Comparing the team’s weaknesses to that of Anderson’s solid play this season (.921 SV%, 2.67 GAA), he has to be Ottawa’s most valuable player. Without him, there is no telling where the Senators would find themselves in the standings.
Beyond Anderson’s Stats
Whether or not you agree with that statement, Anderson has been a huge factor for the Senators this year. One part of Anderson’s value to the team that can be overlooked is his veteran presence. Through the barrage of shots he has faced all season to his particularly poor performance earlier this year against the Montreal Canadiens, Anderson has undoubtedly kept himself calm and collected.
Having the composure to keep a leveled head through his personal in game struggles as well as those of the team can show a lot to the young players Ottawa has.
Anderson Just One Piece of the Pie
With all of that said, Anderson is just one small piece of this Senators team. Although without him Ottawa would flounder, the same can be said about players like Karlsson, Hoffman, Ryan, Stone, and Turris. However, simply because of Ottawa’s struggles with shots against this season, their need for a consistent, level-headed goaltender is at an all-time high. And Anderson is here to fill that need.