Should we be Concerned About Frederik Andersen and Leafs Goaltending?

Oct 6, 2016; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) stops a shot from Montreal Canadiens forward Sven Andrighetto (42) during the second period of a preseason hockey game at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 6, 2016; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) stops a shot from Montreal Canadiens forward Sven Andrighetto (42) during the second period of a preseason hockey game at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

Since the days of Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph, nothing has caused Leafs fans more consternation than the inconsistency of goaltending. How do you feel about the preseason performances we have just witnessed from five different goalies?

One of the most enjoyable preseason games this year was game number seven at Hamilton’s First Ontario Place, where, arguably, we witnessed one of the best Leafs goaltending demonstrations of this preseason.

A team made up of the core of this year’s Marlies put in a spirited effort against the core of the Grand Rapids Griffins with a few fringe members of the NHL’s Maple Leafs and Red Wings also participating. The most encouraging aspect of this contest was the play of designated backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth, as he kept the Leafs-laced Marlies in the game, giving them a chance to win if they could overcome their self-destructive tendencies.

Despite witnessing a general ineptness that comes from inexperience at the pro level, what made this game particularly entertaining was the simple fact the squad of Leafs hopefuls, cobbled together primarily from a group that would inevitably represent the final mass of training camp cuts, put in a good effort. This group at least demonstrated more desperation and urgency than the mostly NHL-bound squad that was pummeled 6-1 in Montreal the previous night.

It was also a game not ruined by a Leafs goalie. An ignominy we as Leafs fans have suffered far too often over the last decade or so. After watching the last four preseason games played over five nights, I cannot be the only person with reservations about the Leafs goaltending?

The burning question: should we be concerned about Frederik Andersen?

Sure, it was just preseason and we do have to keep telling ourselves not to make too much of poor outings by players attempting to get themselves back into game shape for the regular season. However, excuse me if I fret just a little bit about some of the less than stellar goalkeeping we have just endured.

Of the five Leafs net-minders making preseason appearances, Antoine Bibeau did nothing to help his cause – he had some rough outings to say the least. Kasimir Kaskisuo fared slightly better, but as a player inexperienced at the pro level, little should be expected of him at this stage in his career.

Oct 2, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Garret Sparks (40) covers up on a loose puck against the Montreal Canadiens during a preseason hockey game at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The few good periods played by Garret Sparks early in the preseason were encouraging, as were most of the minutes played by Enroth, but after that it becomes very difficult to not be concerned with the Leafs’ goaltending. It seems we have the back up and emergency back up positions covered, but how about Andersen as a true number one?

When does Andersen demonstrate that he is suited for this role?

An even scarier notion is if Andersen continues with his inconsistent play into the regular season, can Enroth carry the mail for us?

Spare us the excuses – since Belfour’s departure a decade ago, we have heard them all concerning Leafs goaltending and the woefully inconsistent play we have endured time and time again. All I, and every other person who self-identifies as a Leafs fan, wanted to see during this preseason was an outing by the de facto number one twine minder where he stopped every shot he should have stopped.

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That’s all we could hope for: a Leafs goalie prepared enough in preseason to have a solid outing without any whiffle goals from 50 feet out, no pucks passing through him and simply put, no goals against that he would like to have back. No one was clamoring for a lights out, stand on his head, playoff-like performance during preseason, but a save percentage approaching respectable is not an unreasonable expectation.

Andersen’s save percentage of .826 over two and two thirds games is simply abysmal. In fact, it was the second worst of all goalies involved in preseason action for the Leafs after Bibeau.

Making his debut in a Leafs uniform against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday October 4th in Saskatoon, Andersen looked okay for two periods, where he let in one goal. It was his first bit of game action after convalescing from a pre-preseason injury and could be considered encouraging in the fact we did not see anything to be alarmed about.

Anderson’s next outing was on Thursday October 6th in Montreal, where he faced, what was for the most part, the Canadiens NHL team for the upcoming season, including Carey Price between the pipes.

Leafs goaltending, Jhonas Enroth
Sep 30, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jhonas Enroth (35) during the game against Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

This was the aforementioned 6-1 pummeling, an outing where Andersen was simply brutal. There is no other way to describe it. The few good saves he made were overshadowed by letting in four softies out of six goals against.

Bad outings for goaltenders at any level, is simply a fact of life for the position – it happens to even the best of them. However, concern is warranted when it occurs in consecutive games, or worse, continues beyond a few games.

Andersen’s next start was Saturday October 8th against a mostly NHL-caliber Detroit Red Wings team with their number one goalie, Petr Mrazek guarding the cage.

Over the course of the game Andersen’s play was fairly steady when he found himself heading into the second half of the third period in a 3-3 tie, with just one of those three goals against we can assume he would have liked to have back. Then he coughed up a back breaker, a team demoralizing, eye rolling whiffler from 40 feet out, with no traffic in front. Despite his size and the area of net he covers when in position, the puck simply went right through him.

If you count the two goals from the Red Wings game, add it to the four goals from the game against the Canadiens, I get six goals scored on Andersen during the preseason out of 11 goals against in total, that he would have liked to have back.

With a save percentage of .826 over those nearly three games, “concern” may not be a strong enough word, “despair” may be a better word to describe our feelings about Leafs goaltending. All we can do is keep telling ourselves that Anderson will turn it on when the games matter, that he will be better when the season starts….he has to be.

Next: Leafs Training Camp Observations and Surprises So Far

From the admittedly small body of work that we have seen so far, there has been nothing to indicate that Andersen is truly a number one goalie. Let me ask the question yet again: should we be concerned about Frederik Andersen? … Your thoughts?