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Net losses & can the current duo bounce back?

April 18, 2018, 8:15 AM ET [1 Comments]
Jared Crozier
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
I continue my post-season analysis of the organization from top to bottom today, and after looking at the GM and then the coach, I turn my attention to the crease.

By any measurement or stat, the Senators netminding was, if not reason #1 for the disaster, is a very close 1A.

Starter Craig Anderson was healthy, had the ability to focus on hockey more than last season, and simply didn't come close to meeting expectations. He had his worst year as a Senator, and his worst season as a starting goalie in the NHL.

He had a sub-.900 save percentage for the first time in a full season, and out of the 67 goalies who started at least 10 games this season, Anderson's .898 save percentage was 58th, the same slot his 3.32 GAA landed him in.

Mike Condon, who did enough to keep the Senators in the playoff race last season while Anderson was absent helping his wife deal with her cancer scare, had ample opportunity to seize the starting role with Anderson's struggles, and he flopped as well. His 3.25 GAA (57th of 67) and .902 SP (54th of 67) were only marginally better than Anderson's, and that wasn't enough to make the Senators viable.

You can argue that the focus on offense and the shift from the system that they had played in 2016-17 was a factor, but the fact is that the Senators as a team had a league-worst .908 SP at even strength.

And it wasn't just the number of goals allowed, in many cases it was the timing, and type of goals that got past them. There were a lot of nights where the team was just simply deflated, knowing that they are almost starting the game down 1-0.

So now that we are through the misery of 2017-18, we look forward to 2018-19, and the possibilities.

Despite acquiring the player that will hopefully be their goalie of the future in Phillip Gustavsson, the Swedish prospect needs a full year in the AHL to get accustomed to the North American professional game, and the last thing the Senators want to do is screw up his development by rushing him to the NHL.

Anderson is about to start his new 2 year contract, and Condon has 2 years left on the 3 year extension he signed last summer, and the pair are making a combined $6.6M under the salary cap. With the likelihood of being able to move one of them out very slim, it looks like the Senators are stuck with them for a couple more years, and Pierre Dorion stated that the would be the tandem to open next season.

So the hopes for a bounce-back hedge on Anderson's career history of being on for a year, off for a year. If that trend can continue, next year should be a real doozy for Anderson. But, he is going to be 37 in May and even the good "Beast Mode" stretches aren't as good as they once were.

Condon was just good enough last year to keep them in the mix, but his numbers were pretty average and not really indicative of being a legitimate starter.

The Senators are between a rock and a hard place in a lot of spots, and goaltending is just one of them, although a very big one.

Personally, I think they are in a lot of trouble, and that is the biggest spot of concern and one of the reasons why the Senators window for winning won't be open for a while, and it may also have a trickle-down effect when trying to get signatures on long-term contracts for the likes of Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone and Matt Duchene.
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