Will the Anaheim Ducks Sink or Swim Without Frederik Andersen?
Goaltender Frederik Andersen is expected to miss at least one week after being placed on injured reserve February 10th because of an apparent head injury. The crossbar of the net that he was defending fell forward, meeting his head. Not good.
One week isn't a lot if that's all the time that he misses, but there's always question marks surrounding head injuries in sports, especially hockey.
Is it time to panic in Anaheim?
Andersen has been arguably the best player on the Ducks not named Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf. The Danish goalie has a .916 save percentage, good for 17th in the NHL, and his 2.37 goals against average is 16th best. He has allowed 101 goals in all, which puts him in the bottom 10 in the league, but he has also seen the ninth-most shots in 44 games. Andersen is putting up more than respectable basic numbers in his first full season as starter.
In limited action with the club, Bryzgalov and Gibson have combined to allow 35 goals on 291 shots (.879 save percentage).
That is a bit of an issue. Bryz, 34, is expected to get first crack at starting since he has been the primary backup for Andersen since arriving in Anaheim. That said, he hasn’t had a sub-2.50 goals against average since 2011-12. Gibson had a solid playoff run as an unknown for the Ducks last season after Andersen missed time with an injury. He lost backup goalie duties to Jason LaBarbera prior to this season, but starting in the minors was probably his best option.
The defense has been acceptable. Vatanen (50.8 Corsi for Percentage 5v5 in 55 games), Hampus Lindholm (52.0, 53), and Cam Fowler (51.7, 54) represent the three healthy blueliners with positive value, according to HockeyAnalysis.com. Francois Beauchemin (50.8, 37) and Ben Lovejoy (53.2, 32) round out the top five options despite playing fewer than 40 games. That’s enough for a bend-but-don’t-break defense. There's a pattern with bending and not breaking that I'll touch on in a moment. Anaheim has a +14 goal differential.
The Anaheim Ducks rank no higher than 15th and no worse than 19th in team Corsi for Percentage, Fenwick for Percentage, Team Save Percentage, PDO and Goals for Percentage at even strength. That's amazing! Anaheim truly is a middle-of-the-road team based on some of the best indicators in advanced statistics. The Ducks are 10th in the NHL in shooting percentage at 8.2% -- that could explain the team's ability to put the puck in the net.
The Ducks have scored 163 goals, fourth best in the Western Conference and best in the Pacific Division. The issue with their scoring is that 37% of the goals have come from the top line of Perry, Getzlaf and Matt Beleskey. The line hasn’t been together all season, but majority of it. And while 60 goals are great for three players, it puts an emphasis on secondary scoring during Andersen’s injury. Relying on one line is a recipe for disaster.
Anaheim has a 13-point lead over the Calgary Flames in the Pacific. Our nERD metric says that gap could be decreased, especially with the division leader missing its top netminder. Anaheim’s 0.29 nERD is a 0.12 increase over Calgary’s 0.17. Both teams project to make the playoffs handily according to our projections, but Anaheim would be best suited to not let the Flames smell blood in the water.
Calgary has had the fourth-easiest schedule in part because of the weak Pacific. Anaheim has had a bit of a tougher one, having the 13th-best schedule. Anaheim may be able to breathe a sigh of relief if Corsi and Fenwick dictate the next week or so for Calgary -- the Flames are 28th in the NHL in CF% and FF%, and have relied heavily on goaltending and the second best shooting percentage in the league (8.88%).
If Andersen is to miss just one week, he would return in time to face Calgary February 20 at Calgary.
No one will be surprised if Anaheim’s cushy lead out west shrinks some, but a collapse seems less likely. Anaheim saves that drama for the spring.