When the NHL resumes, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be facing the Columbus Blue Jackets in a play-in series and the pressure will all be on Frederick Andersen.
It’s starting to get stinking hot in Toronto this week and the starting goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs should be feeling that heat.
Andersen is the Leafs number-one goalie this year and no doubt will be next year but the pressure is mounting for him as free agency nears.
In order for the Leafs to win this playoff series, he’ll have to perform at his peak. However, that’s not as easy as it sounds.
Over the past four seasons in Toronto, Andersen has always had trouble at the beginning of the season and end of the season.
What Frederick Andersen Will We See in the Playoffs?
I’m not sure if it’s a conditioning thing, but for whatever reason, he struggles in October and April. Sure, there are a few good games sprinkled in there each year, but for the most part, he’s not the same goalie in those months as he is from November-March.
Let’s look at his October stats with the Toronto Maple Leafs:
- 2016-17: 0.876 SV%, 3.71 GAA
- 2017-18: 0.896 SV%, 3.45 GAA
- 2018-19: 0.919 SV%, 2.50 GAA
- 2019-20: 0.901 SV%, 3.00 GAA
Overall those stats are terrible. Besides the 2018-19 season, the other three seasons are well below NHL quality goaltending standards.
When the NHL returns, the Leafs will have a training camp but they’re not going to be playing any real exhibition games. Instead, they will have a few team scrimmages and before you know it, you’re in do-or-die competition in a Best-of-Five series where anything can happen.
Every team will be in the same situation by having limited scrimmages and non-exhibition games but if history has shown us anything, it’s that Andersen may not be ready for the moment.
Even during his time in Toronto, big moments have fallen wayside for him. In three seasons in Toronto, Andersen and the Leafs have a 0-3 playoff record, including a blown 3-2 series lead against Boston last season.
Andersen has allowed three or more goals in 13 of his 20 playoff starts in Toronto, including four of those games in which he allowed five or more goals. You may be able to get away with that in the regular season, but that’s not going to cut it in the playoffs when teams play a much tighter game.
The Leafs have one of the best offenses in the NHL, so they’re almost guaranteed to score three or more goals every night. Andersen needs to be more consistent and not allow those big numbers like he’s done in the past.
The Leafs don’t need Andersen to be like Jonathan Quick in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs where he posted a 1.41 GAA and 0.946 SV% en route to the LA Kings winning the Stanley Cup.
However, they do need him to be more consistent and with a similar stat-line to Antti Niemi during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup run in 2010, when he finished with a 2.63 GAA and 0.910 SV% in the playoffs.
Everyone is expecting the “Big Four” of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares to be at their best, but like reaching into a bag of trail mix, you never know what you’re going to get, with Andersen.
Let’s see if Andersen is ready for it, but until then, the pressure is all on him.