In today’s edition of the goalie news, we’ll discuss the goaltending woes in Canada’s largest city, a shutout for a Finnish legend, and two of the best Halloween costumes you’ll ever see.
Is Andersen in Trouble?
The Toronto Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division, exactly where they finished last season. But anyone paying attention to their progress is aware that something isn’t quite right. And a look at the statistics reveals one culprit who may rise above the rest: goaltender Frederik Andersen.
Entering Tuesday night’s game, his record was fine: he was 6-2-1. But the numbers beyond that were troublesome. Only five of his nine starts were “quality,” meaning that his save percentage (SV%) for that game was above league average. His SV% on the season was .904, and his goals against average (GAA) was 2.94. Most troublingly, he had -1.16 goals saved above average (GSAA), meaning Andersen was performing worse on the shots he faced than a league-average goalie would be expected to perform.
Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals didn’t improve matters. He allowed four goals on 34 shots, and both the first goal and the last one, an Alex Ovechkin winner in overtime, were slapshots that beat Andersen cleanly on an open look. That performance will count as another non-quality start, dropping his percentage to an even .500. Analysts consider that a “bad” quality start percentage.
The Maple Leafs’ struggles are by no means all on Andersen’s shoulders. They have played undisciplined hockey, have not started games particularly well, and are without captain John Tavares and several other key players. But Andersen is the most troublesome player by far because, without a strong performance from him, they are sunk this season.
Shutout for Rinne
It wasn’t a hard night of work for Pekka Rinne, but he recorded his 57th career shutout on Tuesday night all the same. The Finnish netminder stopped 20 shots from the Chicago Blackhawks to propel his team onto victory. After the game, Rinne described the shutout as “one of the easier games” of his entire career.
That may not sit well with Blackhawks fans, but it’s hard to suggest he’s lying. If only Rinne and Nick Bonino had been on the ice, the game would have been the same, as Bonino added the natural hat trick to complement Rinne’s shutout. It is his second consecutive shutout, dating back to the Predators’ 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 24. He joins Carter Hutton, Petr Mrazek, and Tuukka Rask as the only goaltenders with multiple shutouts so far this season.
Vasilevskiy Breaks Out
It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when Andrei Vasilevskiy wasn’t a fully established NHL starter. In fact, just two seasons ago was his first without the training wheels of an established starter by his side. At the trade deadline in the 2016-17 season, Vasilevskiy’s Tampa Bay Lightning traded Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings. That cleared the net for the Russian to prove all the hype in him, and early in the next season, he did not disappoint.
On this date in 2017, Vasilevskiy tied the record for the most wins by any goalie in the month of October, finishing with a 10-1-0 record. The performance tied the marks set by Manny Legace with the Detroit Red Wings in 2005 and Craig Anderson with the Colorado Avalanche in 2009.
It was more than victories, though: Vasilevskiy posted an impressive .927 SV% and a 2.46 GAA in those 11 games. He also finished the month with nine of those wins in a row, setting a Lightning franchise record.
It was the start of a breakout season in which he finished first in the league with 44 wins. He was third in Vezina Trophy voting, before winning the award the following season. Now, there is no question that Vasilevskiy is among the most elite goaltenders in the league, but he began to prove that two years ago by tying this record and never looking back.
Goalie Gram: The Addams Goalies
Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury may be rivals on the ice, but off it, they clearly have similar tastes. Both stellar goaltenders chose to dress up as Addams Family characters for Halloween.
Ever the jokester, we’ll give the slight nod to Flower for his picture-perfect Cousin Itt, but that’s no disrespect to Price’s Gomez. And their wives played along, with Fluery’s wife Véronique playing Wednesday and Angela Price as Morticia. They may be creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky, but in net, these guys are the best in the business. The two will actually face off on Halloween night, but we’re guessing Fleury will leave the hair at home.
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.