Frederik Andersen

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The Buzzer: Kadri nets a hatty, Andersen stops 54, Varlamov shuts the door

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Players of the Night:

Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs: Kadri continued his torrid pace as of late, scoring a hat trick and recording five points in a 6-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kadri has seven goals in his past 10 games.

Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs: The Blue Jackets put 57 shots on Anderson. He stopped 54 of them. Yes, 54 saves – a career-high. Unreal.

Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche: Varlamov turned aside 43 shots, including five on the power play, to help the Avalanche to a 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens. It was Varlamov’s first win since Dec. 29.

Highlights of the Night: 

Andersen doing his thing:

Korpisalo, the Maple Leafs killer (not quite on Wednesday) but my goodness this save:

Sticking with the nice save theme:

Kadri’s hat trick goal, and quite the pass from Marner:

Factoids of the Night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Blue Jackets 3

Avalanche 2, Canadiens 0

Panthers 4, Canucks 3


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Laying it on the lines: Maple Leafs rolling after adjustments

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It’s kind of crazy how a little tinkering can completely change the complexion of an offense.

On Jan. 23, the Toronto Maple Leafs were stuck in a rut. For the better part of the past month-and-a-half, dating back to Dec. 12, they’d essentially spun their tires.

With a 6-7-3 record during that 16-game span, something needed to change, even if they were still sitting comfortably in third place in the Atlantic Division.

Still, limping into the playoffs wouldn’t be ideal for Mike Babcock, so he did what he’s done best over his long tenure as an NHL bench boss: he adjusted.

Gone were the lines that weren’t working and in came something to experiment with.

Mitch Marner moved up to the second line. Leo Komarov dropped down to the fourth. Gone was Frederik Gauthier, who went from the fourth line to the minors. Matt Martin took a seat in the press box. And the Leafs brought up 21-year-old prospect Kasperi Kapanen, who put up good numbers in the American Hockey League.

The result looked like this:

Zach HymanAuston MatthewsWilliam Nylander

Patrick MarleauNazem Kadri – Mitchell Marner

James van RiemsdykTyler BozakConnor Brown

Leo Komarov – Dominic Moore – Kasperi Kapanen

Babcock must be quite the alchemist. His concoction has proven effective. Really effective.

Kadri and Marner have benefitted most. The former had two points in his previous 20 games before welcoming Marner on his right wing. Kadri, during the team’s 9-1-0 run as of late, now has seven goals and 15 points (including a hat trick and a five-point night on Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 6-3 win).

Marner had just one goal in his previous 11 games before linking up with Kadri and Marleau. Since then, he has seven goals and 13 points.

Even Kapanen is getting in on the fun. He’s got two goals and three assists in that span playing a less offensive role on the team’s fourth line.

Babcock wanted balance, and he got it.

The Leafs, for all their offensive successes during this stretch — they’ve scored 43 goals during their past 10 games — could give Frederik Andersen a bit of a break.

Andersen is seeing a lot of rubber. In Wednesday’s win, Andersen saw 19 shots come his way in the first period and another 22 in the second. The barrage continued in the third with a further 16. Yes, the quick math says 57 total shots. The man made 54 saves.

Wednesday’s result could have been much different if not for Andersen’s heroics.

In four of the past 10 games, the Leafs have surrendered 40 or more shots.

As good as Andersen has been for the Leafs, that isn’t sustainable.

The good news for the Leafs and their fans is that Andersen is in the top-five among starters (minimum 1,500 minutes played) when it comes to goals saved above average, one of the better goalie metrics to judge how good a puck-stopper is.

Andersen is also sixth in adjusted save percentage, which takes into account shot location when determining a goalie’s save percentage, taking the traditional metric one step further.

It’s all working right now for Toronto. And within their reach is the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The Leafs are just four points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Blackhawks may have hit rock bottom

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It can only getter better from here, right?

The Chicago Blackhawks entered play on Monday night having lost five games in a row and 10 of their past 13 to fall 10 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Things did not get much better in Arizona where they were blown out, 6-1, by a Coyotes team that had won just 13 of its first 55 games. The Blackhawks’ losing streak now sits at six games (with losses in 11 of their past 14 games) as they failed to gain any ground on any of the teams ahead of them in the standings.

They remain 10 points out of a playoff spot with still four teams ahead of them.

Not great.

It was another ugly night for the goaltending situation as starter Anton Forsberg had to be benched after giving up three goals on 13 shots, including a really ugly goal from a terrible angle by Tobias Reider to make it 3-1.

That performance came after Jeff Glass allowed three goals on 19 shots in their previous loss to the Minnesota Wild over the weekend. Glass did not do much better in relief of Forsberg on Monday by giving up three goals on the nine shots he faced.

Corey Crawford‘s absence has obviously been a huge issue for the Blackhawks. The defense is not very good and Forsberg and Glass could never be expected to adequately replace one of the best goalies in the league, and arguably Chicago’s most important player at this point. But even if Crawford returns to the lineup there just does not seem to be much chance for the team to make up all of this ground. For as much as of an upgrade as Crawford would be in net, the team in front of the goaltenders is still shaky defensively and has not exactly been an offensive powerhouse lately.

Lot of problems in Chicago right now.

Player(s) Of The Night: William Nylander and Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have some flaws but holy cow are they a fun team to watch.

They played a wildly entertaining game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night that saw their young superstars dominate early, then let a 3-0 lead slip away, then get a game-winning goal from James van Riemsdyk to help them improve to 9-2-0 in their past 11 games.

Nylander and Matthews were the big stars of the night for the Maple Leafs.

Nylander scored a pair of goals while Matthews added three assists in the win.

How far can the Maple Leafs go playing this style of hockey with that defense? That is up for a lot of debate, but with that group of forwards and Frederik Andersen playing the way he is (and he was very good once again on Monday night, even while giving up three goals) they will have a chance against anybody.

Player Of The Night Part 2: Vincent Trocheck, Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers offense came through in a big way on Monday night with seven goals, with five of those goals coming from Vincent Trocheck and Evgeny Dadonov.

Trocheck was the big star by recording a hat trick in the win.

Highlight Of The Night

Aaron Ekblad opens the scoring for the Florida Panthers in their win over the Edmonton Oilers with a bank shot from an impossible angle.

Factoid Of The Night

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have combined to score 12 goals for the Edmonton Oilers over the past six games.

The Edmonton Oilers record in those six games: 1-4-1.

If a team has two players combine for that many goals over that many games it seems almost statistically impossible to only get one win out of that stretch.

Scores

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 3

Arizona Coyotes 6, Chicago Blackhawks 1

Florida Panthers 7, Edmonton Oilers 5

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

The Buzzer: Andersen shuts down Preds; Another McDavid effort wasted

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Player Of The Night: Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs picked up a big shootout win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night thanks in large part to another great performance from starting goaltender Frederik Andersen.

Andersen stopped 44 out of 46 shots on the night and then another six in the shootout.

It was already the fifth time this season (via NHL Public Relations) Andersen has won a game in which he has stopped at least 40 shots, more than any other goaltender in the NHL. Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson is the only other goalie that has at least four such wins.

With a .922 save percentage on the season Andersen has been great for the Maple Leafs and a huge part of their success. Given that the Maple Leafs still have some work to do to improve defensively he is going to play a big role in determining how far they are able to advance in the playoffs.

McDavid Scores Again, But Oilers Lose Again

For the seventh time in the past three games Connor McDavid found the back of the night for the Edmonton Oilers, and it was a pretty outstanding goal as he blew past Drew Doughty with ease and scored his 22nd goal of the season. The sad thing about McDavid scoring seven goals in the past three games? The Oilers have won just one of those games after losing to the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 on Wednesday night. That is pretty much the story of their season. McDavid is great. The rest of the team stinks. It is going to be one of the all-time great wasted seasons. They remain 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference playoff race and pretty much need to win 25 of their next 30 games the rest of the way to have a chance to get in.

Highlight Of The Night

Kasperi Kapanen has been a great addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup and he scored a beauty of a shorthanded goal on Wednesday night to put his team up 2-0. Take a look at this individual effort.

Highlight Of The Night Part 2

Speaking of great individual efforts, let’s go back to New York where Boston Bruins forward Tim Schaller kind of embarrassed the Rangers’ defense.

Factoid Of The Night

Drew Doughty became just the second Los Angeles Kings defenseman to record at least 300 career assists and 400 career points. The only other defenseman in team history to reach those milestones was Rob Blake. [NHL Public Reactions]

Scores

Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Nashville Predators 2

Boston Bruins 6, New York Rangers 1

Los Angeles Kings 5, Edmonton Oilers 2

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Connor McDavid drops four on the Lightning

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Players of the Night:

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: Oilers haven’t had much to smile about this season. Lacklustre play, lacklustre results and a season likely devoid of the playoffs. But on Monday, they got a chance to flash a grin. McDavid went into McJesus mode and dropped four goals and five points on the Tampa Bay Lightning. McDavid now has 21 goals and 40 assists on the season. Smile, Edmonton, even if only for a while.

Kevin Fiala, Nashville Predators: Fiala must like New York. It seems New York likes him. Fiala scored twice on Monday against the Islanders, two days after he put up a brace against the Rangers on Saturday. Fiala is now up to 17 goals on the season, six more than he had in his rookie season last year. And there’s lots of time left to keep advancing that number.

Auston Matthews and William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs: Both scored twice, both added an assist and the Maple Leafs won a shootout 7-4 against the Anaheim Ducks.

* Honourable mention goes to Corey Perry, who recorded an assist on each of Anaheim’s four goals in the game.

Highlights of the Night:

Stoned:

Dan Hamuis getting his due on Monday night:

McJesus:

If you think McDavid’s hat-trick goal was filthy, check out this one:

Factoids of the Night:

MISC:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 7, Ducks 4

Predators 5, Islanders 4 (OT)

Stars 2, Rangers 1

Oilers 6, Lightning 2


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck