While most teams have good reason to tighten defensive zones with a backup goalie in net, the Anaheim Ducks have had the luxury this season of playing as sure a game with backup goalie Frederik Andersen on the ice as that with starting goaltender Jonas Hiller.
In a year of record marks and defining firsts for many players amongst the Ducks’ roster, Andersen is the player who might stand out most of all, holding an impressive 17-5-0 record during his rookie season in net and signing a two-year contract extension at the end of October
Andersen continued his outstanding blue paint presence Saturday night in the Ducks’ last road game of the week against a Vancouver Canucks team currently clinging for dear life to any hope of a playoff berth they might have left. Although the Canucks out-shot the Ducks 32-21, Andersen made 31 saves and held all the right rebounds to keep the home team off the board, except for a single wrist shot by Vancouver’s Brad Richardson.
As the Ducks begin to prepare for the playoffs, a backup goalie with Andersen’s capabilities adds peace of mind to a team that hasn’t necessarily drifted toward the end-of-season finish line as smoothly as intended; offense has been hard to come by in a few recent games for the Ducks.
Another factor Anaheim faces this time of year is the season-looming question regarding Hiller’s playoff capabilities. Last year, things got shaky in the Ducks’ net as the seventh seed Detroit Red Wings managed to best the then-second-place Ducks into an early summer break. Granted, Hiller is coming off the most outstanding year of his career with Anaheim, often times being the determining factor in a Ducks win.
While the playoffs certainly bring a different atmosphere and clean slate to all 16 teams, the question of Hiller’s postseason capability is no longer a heavy one with Andersen’s proven achievements thus far; the newest Anaheim duckling has what it takes to assist this team in their run for the Stanley Cup.