Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Underrate Craig Anderson At Your Peril

Why is everyone so anxious to give Craig Anderson the boot?

That might be overstating the facts but the sentiment is out there amongst the Ottawa Senators fans. They see Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop tearing up the AHL and are quick to believe they’d do the same in the NHL.

To them, Anderson is old news. Yesterday’s paper. The guy who hasn’t played all year.
Be careful what you wish for.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the wayward throes of “prospect porn”, as the hip kids like to call it, because there’s no excitement factor around veterans anymore. It’s ingrained in the hockey culture now. Most fans look forward to the Entry Draft more than they do the Stanley Cup finals. Vets are already associated with failure and impatient fans always sense the solution is just one draft pick away. Hence the fretting when picks are moved for real bodies. People freak out.

But when’s the last time a true number one goalie coming off a great season was booted for an unproven rookie? It doesn’t happen. At least not before a game has even been played.

Craig Anderson was the best goalie in the organization last year and stabilized the position, leading to a playoff berth. He’s now a respected veteran in the league and will have plenty to offer in a shortened season when every single game is cranked up to double-pressure.

Are fans really that eager to see the Senators experiment with Lehner when a playoff berth could be on the line in just a matter of weeks? That’s not to say Lehner wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure and the workload, but there is still nothing out there that suggests to me Anderson won’t be the number one goalie, at least in the short-term.

It’s easy to see a day when Lehner and Bishop are the duo in net for Ottawa but what’s the rush? The main goal is to make the playoffs – the only goal – and playing Anderson is surely the best way to get there right now.

If Anderson falters for more than five games, then maybe that crease opens up and one of Lehner or Bishop gets on a roll. But there’s no reason to think we’ll get to that point.

I can’t fathom why fans should have lost any confidence in Anderson as a starter over the summer. Lehner and Bishop’s play has been encouraging but until they prove it at the NHL level, I’ll take Anderson as my starter every day of the week.


Anonymous said...

I think the rush is partly contract driven. Both Bishop and Lehner have stated their desire to play in the NHL and if you look at their accomplishments and stats, they seem to have done everything to "earn" a berth in the NHL.

So at what point does holding them down in the minors, start to hurt the organizations shot at re-signing them? The Blues lost Bishop for exactly that reason, he was ready, his contract was up and he wasn't going to re-sign with St.Louis because there was no room, and probably partly because he had been passed over time and time again.

Yes Anderson is our #1 goalie, but despite his stats and calm veneer, no one equates him with an "elite" goalie tag, which is something that we might have with Lehner. So how long can SENS management keep telling Lehner, and to a lesser degree Bishop, that he's not ready, he has to play in the AHL, when everyone else is telling him he IS ready? How long before his RFA is up and he doesn't want to sign in Ottawa because he doesn't trust management to give him an opportunity?

I'm not saying that's going to happen, or that I even think it's likely to happen, but if there's even the CHANCE of it happening, then you trade someone and make room. I would prefer it's Bishop, but you never know, if he outplays Anderson at the start of the year...

PvR said...

So you want us armchair managers to be sensible, reasonable and maybe even coherent?


Man, it is getting tougher and tougher to prove I'm not a robot. What the hell is that .. ..

Anonymous said...

He's never won a playoff round in his life, LEhner has.

At some point the team will need to do something other than talk about prospects and Anderson won't be the guy to take you to that next level.

He's a stop-gap and that's it.