The Ottawa Senators bounced back from back-to-back losses with a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night behind another solid effort from goaltender Craig Anderson. The veteran netminder has been far and away the best player for the Senators this season and has been between the pipes for all seven of the teams’ wins.
A look at the NHL statistical leaderboard for goaltenders reflects how dominant Anderson has been this season. League leader in goals against average – check. Save percentage? Check. Wins? Check. And thanks to last night’s shutout he is now tied with Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes for the lead in that category as well. Anderson’s play hasn’t just been amazing when the team wins, he’s been stellar in their losses too. A little more offensive production may be the difference between the Senators being 12-1 vs. the 7-4-2 record they currently have. Anderson has only allowed more than two goals once, in a 4-3 win over the Sabres last week. A slight matter of concern is if Ben Bishop is a reliable backup option. Anderson will continue to be the team’s workhorse as long as he stays healthy, but Bishop needs to be able to get a win now and then when he gets the start. In two starts, Bishop is 0-2 with a rough loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and a hard-luck 1-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets last Saturday.
In 2011-12, his first full season with the Senators, Anderson won 33 games but didn’t place in the league’s top ten in any of the aforementioned categories. The Senators made the playoffs last season, and with Anderson playing this well they should have an even clearer path to get back to the postseason.