*assuming hockey is played this summer.
When we last saw Freddie Andersen things weren’t exactly going great for him. Following his spectacular .938% save percentage in November which earned him an All-Star spot this year, he followed it up with a .904 in December, an .893 in January, and an .884 in February, and winning only 9 of his last 21 starts. Of course I could also mention that March was off to a better start with only allowing one goal in the two games he played, but that doesn’t change the fact that Andersen’s .909 save percentage is the lowest of his career, and his 51.9% Quality starts is the lowest since his rookie season.
Looking just at 5v5, Andersen’s save percentage was .915, which may sound like an improvement, but actually is worse comparatively, and places him 42nd out of the 54 goaltenders in the league who played 1000 minutes 5v5, and he finished the regular season with a GSAA -4.47. Looking at all situations, Andersen’s GSAA improved to -0.37, making him decidedly more average and having the 31st best record out of 58 goaltenders who played 1000 minutes in any situation.
The short version, Freddie Andersen is not having a great year. The slightly longer version is with a coaching change, defensive injuries, and blueline that wasn’t stellar to begin with, he wasn’t done any favours. The version even longer than that are that neither his numbers or the eye test do much to vindicate Andersen, although this is not taking the defense completely off the hook. These numbers show they need to be better too.
Of course when hockey resumes it isn’t 100% picking up exactly where we left off. There are a few things for Andersen. How has the rest benefited him? Load management is something that has been suggested with Freddie for a couple of years, and this time it’s been done for the Leafs. Although it also means considering how does Andersen play coming out of training camp. Does he typically have a strong start? And finally we need to consider that maybe the decline in Freddie Andersen is for real, in which case we need to ask ourselves, which Jack Campbell will show up this summer?
Now, all of that is with plenty of grains of salt, as the Columbus 2019-20 sample is two games, the 2019 Playoffs represent 7 games, (including another unfortunate Game 7), and that October 2019 was on Mike Babcock’s watch. There’s the fact that a history against Columbus ignores a lot of turnover in the Columbus roster. There is also plenty of salt around the fact that save percentage is an imperfect stat for measuring goaltenders, pretty much like every other goaltending stat out there. Nevertheless, the Jackets do look like an appealing opponent all things considered.
None of this is particularly predictive either. If you look at Andersen’s playoff history, his results have bounced around from .899 to .913 to .947 to .915 to .896, and back up to .922 last year. Andersen’s October numbers are also all over the place as his three years with the Ducks he didn’t have a save percentage below .932 and in his four years with the Leafs he has 3 years at .901 or lower and one year at .919. The results against Columbus this year include a .966 Sv% win in Columbus and a .895 sv% overtime loss in Toronto.
Perhaps all of this is just taking the long and winding road back to goaltenders being voodoo, and coming back around to what we know about Freddie Andersen, and that is that he’s been the best Leafs goaltender in a generation, but all the evidence we have from this season is that he’s starting to decline.
The Andersen that will be showing up will have had a chance to heal. He will have a chance to play behind a defense that has finally attended a Sheldon Keefe run training camp, and they will be at optimal health as well. And if nothing else, Jack Campbell hasn’t looked too bad in net and for the first time in years there is actually a Plan B.
Data from Hockey-Reference.com & NaturalStatTrick.com