Andersen Heating up at Right Time

The Toronto Maple Leafs‘ Frederik Andersen has taken his play to a new level, posting a 2.03 GAA, .943 SV%, and one shutout in his last seven starts. With playoffs right around the corner, Andersen has dominated the crease during the Leafs’ most recent 11-1-2 stretch. His play has propelled the Leafs from being a playoff “bubble” team to a possible contender.

The offseason addition of Andersen has been a huge factor in the Maple Leafs’ turnaround. Recently, Andersen became the first Leafs goalie to post a 30-win season since Vesa Toskala in the 2007-08 season. Every competitive team needs a solid starting goalie, so its only fitting that the Leafs finally found their guy. Without Andersen, there’s no way they would have climbed from 30th in the NHL to a playoff spot in one season.

Andersen’s first season as a Maple Leaf has been a busy one for the Danish goalie, who has played in a career-high 64 games and the second highest total in the NHL. He has been relied upon heavily, but has been more than up to the task. In fact, Andersen is the best goalie the Leafs have had since Ed Belfour, who is considered one of the greatest goalies of all time. The added stability in net gives the Leafs the option to take risks, knowing that their goalie can bail them out of trouble.

Possible Playoff Opponents for the Leafs

Andersen’s play has propelled the Leafs into a position where they could face either the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators or the Washington Capitals in the first round of playoffs. As long as the Leafs can keep ahead of either the Bruins or Senators, they won’t have to play the Capitals in the first round. With the Capitals being a Cup favourite, it is a matchup the Leafs would like to avoid.

Washington Capitals

In the most recent game between the Leafs and Capitals on Tuesday, the Leafs were dominated physically, mainly by the human wrecking ball, Alex Ovechkin. The Leafs were playing their second game in back-to-back nights and were overwhelmed by the Capitals. They failed to generate much for offence and looked rather flat throughout most of the game. Hopefully some rest before Thursday’s game against the Lightning can fix that problem.

Boston Bruins

Surely, the Bruins are a matchup the Leafs are comfortable with after completing the sweep of the Bruins this season. All Leafs fans, including myself, would love a rematch of the epic seven game series from the 2012-13 season. Although the Leafs lost, that was some of the best hockey I have ever seen. Entertaining from start to finish, I’m sure the few Leafs remaining from that team would enjoy rewriting history in a first-round series against the Bruins. The addition of a handful of core pieces to the Leafs will make this rematch a much different series, and outcome.

Ottawa Senators

A battle of Ontario between Toronto and Ottawa would also be an entertaining first round, as the Leafs could take advantage of a Senators team flooded with nagging injuries.

Normally, one wouldn’t consider such a young team an actual “contender”, but with the possibility of a first round matchup in the Leafs’ favour, and a goalie that can steal games, it could happen. We are witnessing the beginning of a dynasty.