Look, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but it’s kind of getting weird for Canadian NHL teams and Craig Anderson.
Consider this: both Anderson and Canadian NHL teams seem to flip-flop seasons in parallel. One year, Anderson is downright elite and most Canadian NHL squads make the playoffs. The other year, Anderson is average-or-worst and barely any Canadian NHL teams see the postseason.
[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]
As the go-to guy for the Ottawa Senators, it makes sense that they’d go as Anderson goes, but this flip-flopping is otherwise quite weird. It’s something PHT touched on heading into 2016-17, and that’s continued on.
2010-11 with Colorado: Lousy .897 save percentage
2010-11 with Ottawa: Fantastic .939 save percentage
2011-12: .914 save percentage
2012-13: .941 save percentage
2013-14: .911 save percentage
2014-15: .923 save percentage
2015-16: .916 save percentage
Last season: .926 save percentage despite personal turmoil, helped Senators get to 2017 Eastern Conference Final.
This season: .899 save percentage in 54 games, Senators primed to finish with strong draft lottery odds.
With the Canucks, Canadiens, Oilers, Flames, and Anderson’s Senators already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Jets and Maple Leafs are slated to be the only Canadian NHL teams who will make the postseason. Considering the moves Calgary made, the run Ottawa managed, the overall hype around Edmonton, and Montreal’s hopes of bouncing back, there are quite a few surprises among the Canadian teams that fell short.
Then again, a pattern is forming here, too. Consider this flip-flopping run of Canadian teams making the playoffs:
2011-12: two teams
2013-14: one (Canadiens)
That’s a bit weird, eh?
There’s some reason to believe that the flip-flopping might continue next season, too.
Granted, Anderson is turning 37 in May, so it might be difficult for him to follow up an abysmal season with an elite year. Then again, the goalie seems to thrive when the odds are the longest. If nothing else, it’s easy to picture Anderson at least approaching his career average save percentage of .915.
An upswing in Canadian NHL teams in 2018-19 is easy to see.
For one thing, the Jets and Maple Leafs both roll out deep, young rosters that should give them a very strong chance to return to the playoffs. The Canadiens have suffered through a lousy season, yet a rebound isn’t tough to picture, especially from Carey Price. The Oilers have their problems, but they also have consecutive 100-point producer Connor McDavid. Improvements may be even more likely if the teams make shrewd changes during the summer, whether that means front office renovations or smart additions via trades and free agency.
The Senators have their own issues, but let’s not forget that they really aren’t that far removed from being an overtime goal from a trip to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.
Anderson could be good-to-great in 2018-19, and Erik Karlsson could be awfully driven if he stays around and plays through his contract year.
So, what do you think? Will these patterns continue? Could rebounds be in order for Anderson and those teams? Don’t flip-flop on this one.