ANAHEIM, Calif. – Frederik Andersen got just enough of Patrick Kane’s shot, the puck caroming off his stick and over the net.
From that save to the rest he made on Sunday, Andersen didn’t seem to get unnerved.
“I don’t know,” he said on Monday. “It’s just my personality.”
Andersen seems a man of few words but he’s not short on confidence or calm, both qualities that have helped him to great performances so far this postseason. He added another one on Sunday, a 32-stop outing in the Ducks’ 4-1 victory over the Blackhawks. In 10 postseason games, Andersen is 9-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
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According to his teammates, it’s no surprise that Andersen has handled this latest playoff stage with poise.
“Not much gets him riled up,” said Kyle Palmieri. “I think he’s a guy that has that confidence about him. He’s not overconfident and showboat-y. He’s humble and, like I said, just calm. That translates to the ice. You see how calm he is in the net. He makes those big saves and he just gets right back to work. He doesn’t get overly flashy with anything. He makes the big saves and he’s been huge for us.”
Andersen went through some playoff growing pains last spring, his rookie season. He allowed three goals in four of his postseason games for the Ducks, who were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that, as well as another year, has helped Andersen’s game.
“Sometimes you never see it, but experience is a huge factor,” Boudreau said. “Last year for everything, it was his first year basically on the big stage being in the NHL. Now he's been through it. You go through a series, whether you're watching or playing, you know, like the L.A. series last year, you learn things.”
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Those lessons have been applied this postseason. While Andersen was strong against Winnipeg and Calgary, who the Ducks eliminated in four and five games, respectively, the big question was how would Andersen handle things against the Blackhawks? Well, Game 1 was a good test and he passed. Andersen was especially good in the first period. When the Blackhawks turned Ducks errors into scoring chances, Andersen didn’t let them turn into goals.
“He’s a pretty calm, collected guy,” Cam Fowler said. “He works really hard on and off the ice. He’s always doing things to improve his game. But he just has a very calm demeanor about him; you look at a lot of the great goalies around the league, they have that quality. As [defensemen], we feel that calming effect when he’s back there. That’s why he’s played so well throughout the playoffs.”
Andersen was a bit of a wildcard entering the Western Conference Finals. He still has tests to come but he played very well against the Blackhawks in Game 1. The Blackhawks will likely adjust and try to get more traffic in front of him in Game 2. If Andersen keeps his calm approach throughout, the Blackhawks are in for a tough series.
“He's another year older,” Boudreau said of Andersen. “He now knows what to expect from himself. He's not afraid of the league.”