Frederik Andersen dominates the headlines after a 47-save performance that improved his post-October save percentage to .941 with a 10-3-1 record.
McKenzie: At some point the Leafs might transition Nylander to centre (TSN1050)
Bob McKenzie joined Cauz and Landsberg and discussed the long-term plans for William Nylander and whether he has a future at the center position.
At some point — maybe next year — Nylander could be a center, but that will depend, I guess, on what else the Leafs have. We don’t know what is going to happen with Tyler Bozak. I think we are safe in saying Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri will be the two centers for the Toronto Maple Leafs next year. We’re not sure who the third center is. Could it be Nylander? I guess it could. I’m not holding my breath necessarily. But at some point down the road, they might transition Nylander from the wing to center. But I don’t think it’s imminent.
On the team’s 99 goals through 29 games despite Nylander and Marner not playing their best hockey yet:
Point wise, I think Mike Babcock keeps pointing out that Marner and Nylander are not terribly far off — not off at all — in terms of point production last year. But their goals are obviously down. I mean, if you look at the shooting percentage, it’s clear it’s an anomaly. They should regress back to a higher level. All the indications would suggest they’ve been having puck luck, and that usually changes over time. But it’s great for the Leafs that they’ve got a balanced attack and they’re getting as much as they’re getting.
Chiodo: Not many guys in the league better than Andersen right now (TSN1050)
Former Penguins goaltender Andy Chiodo joined Landsberg and Cauz and discussed if Frederik Andersen is playing his way into the Vezina conversation.
His season right now is trending in a direction that you can use the word Vezina. You can easily say he is playing his best hockey as a Toronto Maple Leaf.
Chiodo on the difference between Andersen in October and Andersen since:
If you look at October, Andersen wasn’t thriving in those multi-layered screen situations. When he was being screened, he was dropping early. He wasn’t challenging. He didn’t have poise and confidence in this game. Right now, you see him, and even though he got beat on the [Mark Giordano] goal, look at where he was. He was at the top of his crease. He was square. He was driving into the puck. He was still tracking properly. And he got beat.
In October, he was biting early, he was deep. He was looking on the wrong side of the screen. This is where you can see, when a guy is letting a goal in or making a save, if his game is there. That’s what you have to love about Andersen right now. Even when he is getting beat, he is getting beat by playing the shots the right way.
Chiodo on the difficulty of Andersen’s workload and number of shots faced:
He’s right up there [in the league]. Clear Sight analytics is a statistics company that I’ve worked with. Andersen right now is 11th in the league in high-percentage scoring chances, and that is including his October. What he’s facing every night in terms of shot volume is up there with anybody — leading the league. But the Leafs have done a really good job of improving their structure. There are a number of shots that are low-percentage. The shot volume is high, which is a concern over time. But right now, the Leafs have, actually, tightened up their game in a lot of ways. Last night, there were a lot of chances, especially in OT. Go back to the Carolina game and they gave up a lot of chances. But a lot of these nights, when they’re giving up 35-40, they’ve kept a lot to the outside. The Leafs have done a better job. Their players are more responsible defensively and they’re playing with more structure. They’ve played a better team game.
Chiodo on the opposition gearing up to play the Leafs:
It’s important to give the opposition credit. Last night, the Flames played their best game of the season start-to-finish. They defended the blue line, were great through the neutral zone. They made it real difficult for the Maple Leafs all night long. I talked to a few guys from Calgary after the game and they cite that as their best game of the year. You have to remember that the opposition is bringing their best against the Toronto Maple Leafs all the time. That’s a new challenge for the Leafs to face. It’s not so much that they’re playing slow or not starting great. The opposition is bringing it.
McLennan: Andersen on the path to becoming elite, but still unproven (TSN1050)
Jamie McLennan joined Leafs Lunch on Thursday to discuss the incredible recent play of Frederik Andersen.
Noodles on whether Andersen is in the “elite” category:
I think he’s on the path to being that. For me, I’ll stop short of it because you have to prove it. Jonathan Quick didn’t show up in the league and they said, “He’s an elite goaltender, just go with that.” He had to prove it by playing 70 games year in and year out and backing it up with solid play. Corey Crawford — the same thing. Roberto Luongo. Cory Schneider, for example, had a down season last year but you knew he had the skills to be an elite goaltender. He had to prove it. Cam Talbot did last year and then he stubbed his toe out of the gates. All of a sudden, you’re starting to second-guess. Was that a one-off? What is Cam Talbot when he’s healthy?
Frederik Andersen is on the path to being an elite goaltender. There are other goaltenders in front of him because they’ve proven that. If Andersen continues to prove it — if he plays another 60+ games this year and shows he can handle the workload, the duress — he can continue to push forward. Braden Holtby is another guy that comes to mind; there are goaltenders that are in front of him, as far as being deemed elite, but it doesn’t mean he’s not on the path to being an elite goaltender.
Andersen clutch again for Maple Leafs on another busy night (Sportsnet)
When facing 40 or more pucks, Andersen is 10-2-2 over his career and leads all goaltenders in that category. Andersen has ballooned October’s sub-.900 save percentage to a shiny .922 mark. Imagine where Edmonton or Philadelphia might be with this level of goaltending.
How JP Bickell helped shape Toronto from Famous Players to the Leafs (Tor Star)
“He was all about civic duty and he was a sportsman,” MacLachlan says. “He was supposedly the largest taxpayer in Canada for a number of years, and he’s quoted as saying he was happy and proud to pay his taxes. He was such a Canadian patriot. Everything involved the Maple Leaf.”
Meet the man who’s responsible for keeping the Leafs healthy (The Athletic)
“In hiring Dr. Bettle,” Kyle Dubas, the Leafs assistant general manager said in a statement back then, “our sole objective is to be able to have our players know that as a program, we are doing everything we can in all aspects to optimize their performance and maximize their potential as a hockey player, regardless of what stage of their career they’re at.”
Johnny’s Next Spot: Eight teams Tavares could sign with in ’18 FA market (ESPN)
Tavares bleeds orange and blue. He has consistently said that he wants to lead this franchise back to Stanley Cup glory, and the pieces — Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle and Josh Ho-Sang — finally appear to be in place to assist him in that mission. Off the ice, playing for the Islanders means having the benefit of a huge media market while allowing the low-key Tavares to maintain a level of privacy. His home is in New York.