Craig Anderson is perennially among the NHL’s most consistent goaltenders, if not all players. His numbers thus far this season show that nothing has changed in that regard, and yet, for Craig and his family, it’s far from business as usual.
Craig Anderson has become a fan favourite during his tenure thus far in Ottawa. He is one of the most consistent players on the Senators team, and in the league as a whole.
Here are some numbers:
Since he joined the team during the 2010-2011 season, he’s put up annual save percentages of .939, .914, .941, .911, .923, and .916, respectively. His numbers this year are no different. Through 27 games this season, his save percentage sits comfortably at .930, just behind Devan Dubnyk (.933), Braden Holtby (.931), and Scott Darling (.931). His GAA is currently sitting at 2.25, his third best for a season in his tenure with the Ottawa Senators. He has also posted 4 shutouts this season through 27 games, and has yet to lose more than two games in a row (lost twice in a row November 5/November 8 and November 29/December 5). Since returning to the team, he has gone 6-2-0, with a save percetange of .946 and a GAA of 1.75, leading the league over that time span.
His game split statistics are very interesting as well. Thus far, he has compiled 18 wins and 8 regulation losses through 27 games (1 OT loss). In his 18 wins, he has posted an incredible .951 save percentage and a red-hot 1.54 GAA, allowing only 28 goals in that time span. Subsequently, in his 8 regulation losses so far, his numbers are less than stellar. Through 8 games, he has a .881 save percentage and a 3.99 GAA, allowing 31 goals. Through six games in February since returning to the team, he .947 save percentage and a 1.84 GAA.
It’s also interesting to dissect how he fares against each division as well. He, like the Senators, have had their lowest rate of success against Atlantic division teams. Against the Atlantic division, he has gone 6-5-0, but has his lowest save percentage and GAA, .903 and 3.00, respectively. Against the Metropolitan division, he is 7-2-0, with a .945 save percentage and a 1.89 GAA. In the Central division, he has compiled a record of 1-1-1 , with a .937 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA. Finally, in the Pacific division, Anderson has gone 4-0-0, posting a .961 save percentage and a 1.25 GAA.
Off the ice:
This season is more than just about Craig’s numbers though. During the beginning of the 2016 season, his wife, Nicholle Anderson, was diagnosed with cancer. She’s currently undergoing treatment for Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma, recently completing her first round of chemotherapy. Craig took a leave of absence from the team to be with Nicholle, and the Senators players, fans, and city of Ottawa rallied behind the family that has endeared themselves to our community for many years. If you’re not already, you can follow Nicholle’s journey on her blog (http://www.stickbynik.com), or follow her on Twitter (@xonichollexo).
Craig’s season has rightfully begun to garner attention league-wide, with fans pushing for a Vezina nomination for the Senators’ goaltender. Realistically, his chances at winning the Vezina this season are slim, due in part to the limited number of games he has played compared to his Vezina-worthy counterparts, such as Devan Dubnyk, Braden Holtby, and Sergei Bobrovsky. To put things in perspective, Dubnyk, Holtby, and Bobrovsky all have more wins than Craig Anderson has appeared in games. These three are largely seen as the frontrunners for the trophy at the moment, however, Craig’s name definitely deserves to be in consideration, at least in some capacity. I think Craig Anderson is a more likely contender for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. I would be absolutely shocked if he wasn’t the Senators’ nominee at the end of the season, and if he wasn’t a league-finalist for the award. His perseverance and dedication to the game has been exemplary throughout the past year, and his ability to balance his personal life and his hockey life has been inexplicably outstanding, given the circumstances.
It goes without saying that Nicholle is undeniably a huge part of his success as well. She pushed Craig to return to the team when they needed him most. I will always remember watching his first game back with the team against Edmonton in October, where he posted a 37-save shutout. It was bar none the most emotional moment I have ever seen in hockey, or any sport for that matter. More than making the playoffs. More than winning the Stanley Cup. It showed that the game was about so much more than just hockey. I had never been prouder to be a Sens fan in my life, and as much as I want to see the team succeed on the ice, no trophies, awards, or accolades will ever replace that immense sense of pride for me. For those who want to watch the end of that game again, it’s available here (you’re going to want a box of tissues readily available).
Craig Anderson is an integral part of the Ottawa Senators’ identity and team culture. The players have rallied around him and his family this season, and he’s done his part to be a steadfast rock in between the pipes. If you’re interested in doing some further reading about Craig’s importance to the team and the need to win now, you can check out my previous post here. I know I’m not alone in saying that Craig has quickly become one of my favourite Senators players of all-time, and is quickly closing in on Patrick Lalime’s wins-record with the organization. Within the next few games, he will likely past Lalime and cement his place in Senators’ history. He is such an important player for this team, and year after year, he ranks among the elite goaltenders in the league, yet does so very quietly. He doesn’t generate the buzz that Carey Price does, or receive the attention that Devan Dubnyk, Braden Holtby, or Sergei Bobrovsky receive on a nightly basis, but maybe that’s ok. He goes about his business quietly, but is fiercely loved by his teammates and has earned the respect of every team in the league. He’s a franchise player, a fan-favourite, a rolemodel for youth hockey players, and best of all, he’s an Ottawa Senator.