Toronto Maple Leafs: Frederik Andersen continues to be difference maker

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 8: Frederik Andersen
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 8: Frederik Andersen /

As the Toronto Maple Leafs went down to the wire against the Nashville Predators, Frederik Andersen stepped up like he has done countless times this season.

Earlier this week Ken Campbell of the Hockey News wrote about how the Toronto Maple Leafs need Auston Matthews to be great, not just good going forward in order to be a serious contender in the playoffs.

A better case can be made that if Frederik Andersen plays like he did against the Nashville Predators, the Leafs would be in better shape.

The Predators were on top of the Leafs all game long and erased a 2-0 deficit and almost won the game, but Andersen made a highlight reel save late in the third period to send the game to overtime.

The Preds directed 46 shots on goal, with Andersen making 44 saves and helping the Toronto Maple Leafs secure a win after a seven-round shootout.

One player who certainly owes Andersen for being sharp was William Nylander, who had a brutal giveaway that forced the Dane to make a quick save.

This comes after Andersen took a nasty kick to the head from Corey Perry which did not look pretty in the moment. His determination and impressive play has garnered attention from players across the league.

Andersen is on pace to play 67 games and should have Andrew Raycroft‘s record of 37 wins on his radar which he did in 72 games. He currently has a .922 save percentage which is close to the .924 mark James Reimer had during the 2012-13 season.

What is more impressive is that the Leafs are putting a heavy workload on Andersen, not only with the number of games he has played but the number of shots he’s facing every night.

While it would be tough to make the case to beat out Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Vezina Trophy, the Tampa Bay Lightning netminder will have some serious competition if Andersen continues to perform at this level.

Last season in the playoffs, Andersen had a less than spectacular series but it appears that he has put that behind him.

Not only has Andersen made his presence known on the ice, but he is also making an impact off the ice when he called out his team for their less than stellar play. There are not many goalies that can do that and not get a lot of backlash for it.

So even if he does not win the Vezina, the Leafs should feel confident with the way Andersen has elevated his game which was on full display against Nashville.

Next: Josh Leivo and Nikita Soshnikov on the move?

Should Andersen be the front-runner for the Vezina and is he the Leafs’ most valuable player going into the playoffs? Let us know in the comments below.