ANAHEIM, Calif. – So far Frederik Andersen has mostly been known as a goaltender who is just ‘good enough’ for Anaheim to sweep the Winnipeg Jets in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and take out the Calgary Flames in five games of the second-round.
It wasn’t really until Andersen’s absurd paddle save on Patrick Kane in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final where you had to take a step back and say to yourself ‘maybe this guy is a little better than we initially thought.’
“He picked up a loose puck there. I didn't really see how much time he had at the beginning. I played aggressive, but he was patient, tried to get me moving laterally,” Andersen said. “I knew I had to try to throw my stick over and take as much of the net as I could. Luckily he hit the stick.”
C’mon dude, give yourself a little more credit than saying that Kane just flung the puck at your stick.
Andersen’s inability to give up on the play took away that path for Kane and led to the save of the game. In Anaheim's 4-1 victory, Andersen stopped 32 of 33 Blackhawks shots on goal. The only score was a near-perfect shot by Brad Richards off a bad Francois Beauchemin turnover.
In goaltending when athleticism, positioning and mental toughness come together, solid netminding tends to be the end result.
Has Andersen reached that level yet? It’s tough to tell simply because the body of work isn’t there. But he certainly appears headed in that direction.
“I think he's getting more confidence,” Ducks coach Brude Boudreau said. “He's played through two rounds now. He's seen the pressure that comes with it.”
And the pressure that comes with just making it in the NHL. Andersen wasn’t exactly handed an NHL job. In some sense, he’s like Pekka Rinne or Henrik Lundqvist – a European goaltender who had to adjust to become a solid pro goaltender in North America.
According to a story by NHL.com earlier this year, it was noted that Andersen has lost about 20 pounds down to 235 from 255 when he started in the Ducks organization.
While 235 isn't exactly a low number for a 6-foot-3 goaltender (for example the 6-foot-5 Rinne weighs 204), there is precedent for prolific larger goalies from a movie near and dear to this organization's heart.
The 25-year-old native of Herning, Denmark was drafted in the third round in 2012 by Anaheim and played 28 games a rookie a year ago. This season he played 54 with a 2.38 goals against average and .914 save percentage.
Via the piece by Kevin Woodley:
Andersen recognized during his first rookie camp that he needed to improve his conditioning. So instead of getting on a return flight to Denmark, he spent the rest of the summer in Anaheim working with Roloson's former coach, Scott Prohaska, a nationally recognized strength consultant based in Newport Beach, Calif.
"It was an investment in myself," Andersen said, "and it paid off."
Andersen now spends summers training in California, and it has given him more power on his already smooth lateral movements, especially from the knees.
Coming into the Western Conference Final, Andersen and Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford were on equal footing. Both were fine, but neither was deemed a gamechanger.
As Crawford has dealt with all sorts of ups and downs this playoff, including being yanked in parts of Chicago’s first-round win over Nashville, Andersen has stayed stable with a 1.86 goals against average and .930 save percentage.
The Ducks haven’t exactly played the postseason’s best competition so far, but Andersen has made all the necessary stops.
“Freddie’s been good and steady for us all the time,” Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “He makes most of the saves that he should and some that he shouldn’t. Those are what you need out of your goaltender. When you can take a team like that and keep them to the outside more and not allow them those second and third opportunities, we have faith in our goalie.”
Part of this has to do with the strange amount of confidence Boudreau has shown in Andersen, which has been somewhat by default. An injury to 1Aish goaltender John Gibson at the end of the regular season forced Boudreau, who is known to play postseason goaltender roulette, to go with Andersen.
What will happen if Andersen has two straight stinkers and the Ducks find themselves down 2-1 to Chicago going into Game 4? In his limited sample size, has he earned the right to stay in net for the Ducks? Or will all doubt be silenced if he wins a Stanley Cup?
“He's another year older. He now knows what to expect from himself,” Boudreau said. “He's not afraid of the league.”
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