The Ottawa Senators find themselves tied 1-1 after two games against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are plenty of positives to go along with that, the main one being the fact that they were able to steal home ice advantage away from the Habs.
But if the Senators are going to take advantage of stealing that game on the road, they’re going to need Craig Anderson to step up in a big way. They’ll need him to be better than Carey Price. Which is easier said than done after looking at the way Price played on Friday night.
Anderson spent much of the season out with injury, which leaves him plenty fresh for the postseason. When he has been in the lineup, he’s been one of the better goaltenders in the league. Continuing to prove how underrated he is, Anderson finished the regular season with a 1.69 goals-against average and three shutouts in 12 starts.
In two postseason starts, Anderson has allowed five goals on 84 shots. There’s nothing wrong with that total at all. In fact, it’s even more impressive than what Price has done, as Price has faced quite a few less shots than Anderson has in the first two games of this series.
But on Friday night, we saw what Price can do when his game is on. He was terrific, stopping 29 of 30 shots, while Anderson surrendered three goals on 34. In order for the Senators to advance, Anderson will need to elevate his game and match Price in those games when he is at his best.
Of course, a lot of that comes down the Senators being able to get traffic down around the net and making life difficult for Price. If they’re able to do that, it’ll take a lot of the pressure off of Anderson.
These two teams aren’t that far apart from each other on paper. The one big difference could end up being the play of the goaltenders. If Anderson is able to come out in the next several games, particularly at home, and outperform Carey Price, this series could very well end up going to the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators.