Are we entering “Anderson is the best goaltender we’ve ever had” territory?

goalie talk

VARADA SAYS: 

I know it’s not a huge sample size in either games played or his competition, but after yet another unreal, masterful performance last night against the Habs you just have to ask the question. Is Anderson the best goaltender Ottawa’s ever had?

Sure, Lalime is the winningest goalie in Sens history, though behind a dominant regular season team. Hasek had that spooky, reputational aura that comes with being one of the best goaltenders of all time, and he also put on a show or two in his time here. Emery was part of a team that went the farthest in the playoffs. And all of these factors are legitimate. But Andy might be playing behind one of the weakest Senators teams of the last several years, and he’s outright stealing games.

To put last night’s game into perspective, Ottawa was without it’s number one center, Spezza, and a top four defenceman, Gonchar. They’re rolling a defensive core that includes three rookies–Benoit, Wiercioch, and Borowieki. The other three includes Chris Phillips, the hockey player equivalent of a dependable but wheezing pick up truck. Up front there are rookies and reclamation projects all over the place. The team is playing well under Maclean’s system, don’t get me wrong. But Anderson is a linchpin. Just look at the way his teammates come over to congratulate him after a big save.

Might be getting carried away here; “Best Ever” is quite a tag to heft on someone, even if it’s the Best Goaltender on a Team Generally Thought of To Have Pretty Crummy Goaltending. But Andy’s on fire right now, and it’s a joy to watch.

JAMES SAYS: 

Well, I think you sort of said it there that by looking back at those goalies’ respective careers here there are so many weird factors that muck up any attempt to determine a “best ever” designation. Just like with anything in hockey. This all goes back to the historic case of Lemieux V. Chronic Injury/Illness or Marcel Dionne V. Not playing his whole career on a horrible team. It’s not simply about who had the best GAA and Save % or most wins in a season.
Let Me Break It On Down Ima Kick it My Personal Feelings Root Down.

Hasek: To me he was a ringer in the vein of Ken Griffey Jr. on Mr. Burns’ company softball team. A bonafied legend that dominates the season and goes down with a case of gigantism from the brain and nerve tonic he’s been drinking just when you need him the most. That whole story of Daniel Alfredsson taking Hasek out to dinner to give him the whole, “Look Brosephine, I know you’re not too hurt to play. This team needs you now get in there” speech is one that I sincerely hope is not true. Look, I warned you I was going to kick my personal feelings on down so here it is…Screw Hasek. To me he’s a street cred Tom Barasshole. Flew in, didn’t do meaningful shit for the team and vanished like a fart in the wind first chance he got. Greatest goaltender to ever play on the team? No question. Greatest Senators goaltender? Not a chance. You don’t get that kind of accolade with one season and no playoff appearances in my books.

Lalime: Speaking of black marks on the career in Ottawa…So best overall numbers and even strong playoff numbers but what of those soul crushing playoff flops; do they really count that much against his very strong seasons? Absolutely they do. This guy helped give Leafs fans the most credible ammo against us in our rivalry. Yes, more credible than Stanley Cup wins (though I don’t feel like rehashing my feelings on Stanley Cups that you had to win TWO whole rounds of playoffs to win). He DID look embarrassing in that one series, he DID choke. He and the teams he played for should have done more. Just as I don’t see those as the best teams in Sens history I don’t see him as the best goalie. He is the President’s Trophy Banner of Ottawa goalies. Regardless of how impressive it is supposed to be when I look at that thing all I think about is disappointment.

Emery: Like your favorite band Sugar Ray, “Sugar” Ray is known both for having a brief but meteoric rise but also for threatening senior citizens lives and driving his orange Lamborghini off the MacDonald-Cartier bridge only to parachute out of the sunroof at the last second. I really need to stop taking percodan before doing these threads…where was I? Emery’s debut as starter was definitely a trial by fire as he was hastily anointed the number one when Hasek was sidelined with the aforementioned adductor injury. Considering how many goalies Ottawa has had shit their drawers under the pressure of being starter en générale the fact that Razor was thrust into the job and got the Sens past a round of playoffs is more many starters for this club, Anderson included, can boast. The next season, only his 2nd in the NHL, Emery put together the playoff run that landed him on this list. If winning is all that matters in pro sport, I suppose Emery has the most to brag about. All in all though, Emery’s tenure with the Senators was surprisingly short. If we’re talking about greatness here, do great players get waived in their 3rd season with the club (in favor of Martin Gerber)? It would seem the drama Emery brought to the club is inseparable from his performance as, in my humble opinion, it seems clear he was bought out at least as much for being a distraction to the dressing room as was due to a dip in performance. Emery’s buy out led to some grim seasons in net for many seasons to follow. Conclusion, Emery gets the nod for Groodest (combination of great and good) goalie. Best results but all too brief tenure leaves much to be desired for me.

So this brings us to Anderson. One thing is for sure Andy is never going to be remembered for Greatest Mask in Sens History *bass slide*. Though the sample size here is admittedly small at 87 games played in Ottawa baring injury or unmitigated disaster by even this short season’s end Craig will start closing in on Emery’s total of 134 regular season games. I realize I just talked about how short Emery’s stay in Ottawa but to build on that, it definitely shows what an impact he had in such a short period of time. I think to address the title of this post, “Not About Jason Spezza’s Back Surgery” I think, yes, we’re starting to head into that conversation with Anderson. Starting.

To speak to his impact, for me, the greatest love of all, was his debut as an Ottawa Senator where he posted a 47 save shut out (including a shootout!) against Toronto at the ACC no less. In that one game Craig handled two things the Ottawa goalie rotisserie seemed to wilt in the face of: Games against Toronto and shootouts.

As much as people might to try to speculate to the contrary, since his arrival Andy has established himself as the undisputed #1. I always find it interesting that there’s talk of hot streaks and cold streaks with him. Consider that the rebuild almost perfectly coincides with his signing, his record of 59-27-8 shows that those cold streaks must have been pretty short. Again, 59-27-8 on a rebuilding team shows that it’s starting to get real with Anderson. As rightly mentioned by Varada, aside from Hasek’s one year and one cup final appearance “greatness” is not exactly a hallmark term to through around when it comes to Sens goaltending history. Will Andy shape up to be franchise great? Too early to tell but so far Craig Anderson has slayed one important dragon: From his debut he established himself as number 1 starter. If he is to truly make his mark his mark here he has to slay another dragon that’s dogged him his whole career: Winning a playoff series.

7 thoughts on “Are we entering “Anderson is the best goaltender we’ve ever had” territory?

  1. Pingback: Senators News: February 1st | eyeonthesens

    • To be honest, given how incredibly competitive Hasek always seemed, I really have a hard time believing some of the rumours that swirled around after that loss to Buffalo. Especially considering that Hasek wanted to come back to Ottawa for ’06-07.

  2. Andy’s not there yet.
    Think with AHN-DURR-SONN is that he’s super streaky. Remember when he got here? Stopped everything for like 10-11 games then went back to “normal”. Doing the same thing now and cooling off (two goals allowed last game). Don’t get me wrong, he does hold the team in every game which is fantastic, but I’m going to need to see a deep playoff round (Conference finals or Cup finals at bare minimum) from him to place him above Emery or Lalime.

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