Toronto Maple Leafs fans from “The 6ix” and abroad may think the Buds’ high-flying offense has been keeping the Leafs in the swing of things. However, Maple Leafs 28-year-old Danish netminder Frederik Andersen is the main reason why the boys in Blue and White still have a fighting chance to make the playoffs halfway through this circus of a season!
Toronto Maple Leafs Frederik Andersen is The NHL’s Version of an ‘Underclass Hero’
Frederik Andersen is one of those players that Leafs fans know of, but do not thank enough. Andersen shows up big when it counts for the team. He is, in all honesty, the last line of defence for the Buds. The young Leaf defence has proven that many times throughout the year. Simply put, the defence is not getting the job done. Sometimes the defence seems like they are watching too much of The Red Green Show. The defence cannot seem to get their sticks off the ice to give Andersen a chance to see the puck, making Andersen’s job much harder than that of a goalie like Montreal Canadiens Carey Price or Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford. Andersen has to see things through and through.
“Freddy” goes into a game knowing that his performance will most likely determine if the Maple Leafs win or lose. When the offence is not clicking, he has to stand on his head like he did during Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win against the San Jose Sharks and Toronto’s 3-2 shootout win against the Vancouver Canucks. But win thirsty Leafs fans are too caught up with the Blue and White’s intangibles to sleep with the windows open and give Andersen the credit he rightfully deserves.
He Who Wishes To Be Must Put Aside The Alienation
Franchise center Auston Matthews, playmaking winger Mitch Marner, and the Swedish winger William Nylander seem to relish in the limelight while Frederik Andersen dwells under the bridge. It is understandable that the “Big Three” steal the netminder’s 15 minutes of fame. Pretty goals are easier to market over a solid game in between the pipes. It makes for a better story, a more interesting news report, and a worthwhile discussion. Hockey thrives on that such thing. Goalies must make flashy saves or have unheard of stats to catch the media’s attention. If a goalie cannot reach that standard, netminders are lucky to get a mention in the game recap.
The Canadian media is happy to talk about Carey Price, Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick, Tampa Bay Lighting Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Boston Bruins Tuukka Rask. But where does that leave the NHL’s “underclass hero”?
What Is The Case For Frederik Anderson?
As of Jan 6, Frederik Andersen ranks fourth in the NHL with 21 wins. Freddy has faced a league-high 1160 shots against and has a league-high 1069 saves. Frederik Andersen sports a respectable 2.67 Goals Against Average and a .922 save percentage. Andersen ranks fourth in the league in shutouts. Not to mention, Freddy ranks second in the league with 22 quality starts. Two behind Tampa Bay Lighting Andrei Vasilevskiy’s league-leading 24 quality starts. Helping make Frederik Andersen become the second most valuable goalie in fantasy hockey, according to NHL.com’s David Satriano rankings.
Statistics can only say so much about a goalie. Andersen’s value goes beyond the stats. He has shown that he is a team guy. He comes to the rink and does his job. Andersen does not yearn for the spotlight. He is respectful and as classy as goalies come. Freddy’s teammates know they can rely on him. That creates a bond that only a few teams can say they truly have with their guarder of the net.
What About Andersen’s Inconsistency?
The fact of the matter is even the best of the guardians of the guided gazebos have their bad days and bad stretches. Even Canada’s golden boy Carey Price has had his bad days. Andersen is no exception. However, Freddy always finds a way to bounce back. Just like Carey Price has.
A goalie’s strength does not simply come from winning. A goalie’s struggles develop their strength. That and much more can be said about Frederik Anderson. Which is why Maple Leafs’ general manager Lou Lamoriello was willing to deal a 2016 first rounder and 2017 second rounder to Anaheim to make Frederik Anderson Toronto’s bona fide franchise goalie moving forward. Andersen’s five-year, $25 million deal solidified the notion that the Leafs’ brass had faith in him.
Talking ‘Bout ‘Spect
Moving forward, the Leafs faithful should give Frederik more credit. Is that not what he deserves? Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and company are great players and they deserve every moment they get in the spotlight. But so does Frederik Andersen. Give the man some ‘spect! Freddy means more to Leafs than any other goalie in the league means to their team.
After all, if Toronto does not have Frederik Andersen as the tailor of the tangled twine, the Blue and White would not be fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.