The city of Toronto, Ontario is holding its breath in anticipation this morning as it awaits news on its star starting goaltender. Meanwhile, a tough season for the Detroit Red Wings keeps getting tougher.
Frederik Andersen is one of the best goalies in the league, even if he’s having a bit of a down season. With a .910 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.87 goals-against average (GAA) entering Monday, he had kept the Toronto Maple Leafs in a number of games that they might not otherwise have been in. And with the Maple Leafs in the midst of a disappointing season and fighting for a playoff spot in the crowded Eastern Conference, every point counts.
So, when Andersen was on the receiving end of a nasty collision with Florida Panthers’ forward Frank Vatrano late in the first period on Monday night, Toronto held its breath. When the goalie couldn’t return for the second period and Michael Hutchinson took his place, the city released that breath in a solitary gasp.
Hutchinson acquited himself well until the third period when he allowed three consecutive goals en route to a 5-3 defeat. And despite some recent success, Hutchinson’s numbers on the season (.890 SV%, 3.56 GAA) do not stand up to scrutiny, especially the scrutiny placed upon a Maple Leafs’ starting goalie.
There’s no solid news yet on Andersen. Early reports indicate that he entered the concussion protocol and may recover quickly. Head coach Sheldon Keefe explained things to the press:
He was in concussion protocol, he went through that whole process. My understanding is the results were positive on that. Given the nature of the injury, we wanted to take caution and give it time. We’ll give it tonight and see how he is in the morning.Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe
The Maple Leafs need Andersen back as quickly as possible because an extended run with Hutchinson in net will effectively be the death knell for their playoff chances. Captain John Tavares did his best to shoot down that kind of thinking with the press after the game.
[Andersen] is a big part of our team, he’s been huge for us all year, but Hutchinson is very capable and has played great for us, gotten us some really good results, but we have to do a better job in front of him, especially the shifts in the third period that led to their goals. He gives us a chance to win every night. Injuries happen and we have to find a way to get results.Maple Leafs captain John Tavares
Despite what the captain says, Maple Leafs fans will be praying that their starter is able to return quickly. If he is not, the team may need to look for external alternatives. Rumors have linked Toronto to New York Rangers’ goaltender Alexandar Georgiev in the past. Could a lengthy Andersen injury force their hand in those trade negotiations?
Elliott Stymies the Red Wings
There’s no way to sugarcoat things: the Red Wings are having one of the worst seasons in NHL history. But the last two games may have been two of the worst yet: they have been shutout both times.
On Saturday, the culprit was Henrik Lundqvist, the New York Rangers legend. On Monday, it was Brian Elliott, the Philadelphia Flyers’ backup goaltender. While the man affectionately known as “Moose” may not have the career numbers or legacy of Lundqvist, he has been something a shutout machine in the past.
Elliott didn’t exactly have the toughest night of work though. He stopped all the shots the Red Wings took, but they managed only 16 in the game, for an average of one every 3:45. According to Natural Stat Trick, they generated just five high danger chances and 1.42 expected goals (xG) against the Flyers’ netminder.
Even though Elliott has played just 467 games in his career, many of those as a backup, the shutout was his 40th. That moved him into a tie with Frank Brimsek and John Vanbiesbrouck for 42nd all-time. Elliott is also the franchise leader in shutouts for the St. Louis Blues. He had 25 in just five seasons (181 games) there.
Price Will Miss Tuesday
It’s that season again. No, not trade rumor season; flu season. This time of year, many NHL players battle through the flu. But some cannot overcome the virus without a day or two of rest. Such is the case for Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price, who will not have a chance to follow up back-to-back games this weekend because he’ll miss Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils. The Canadiens canceled practice on Monday as a precaution.
There’s a flu going around the team. We’re taking precautions. We have a lot of games to play, and with the number of games coming up, it’s important to give the players a chance to recover and be ready both mentally and physically.Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien explains cancelling practice Monday
The Canadiens expect backup Charlie Lindgren to make his first start since Jan. 15. He was one of just four players who took the ice despite the canceled practice on Monday. The team also called up promising young goaltender Cayden Primeau from the American Hockey League as a precaution.
Catch up on all the latest NHL Goalie News
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.