Coming into the Western Conference Final, some writers had pegged the play between the pipes as a significant advantage for the Anaheim Ducks.
Frederik Andersen had allowed only 18 goals in nine games in the first two rounds of the playoffs while posting a robust .924 save percentage, numbers that gave many pundits confidence as the Blackhawks headed to California.
To his credit, Andersen was outstanding in the first three games of this series. He allowed five goals in nearly 12 full periods of hockey (including Game Two’s three overtimes), and had a stunning .957 save percentage in two victories and one marathon loss.
Heading into Game Four at the United Center, Andersen and the Ducks had reclaimed home ice with a Game Three victory and had confidence they could close the Hawks out soon. Anaheim hadn’t allowed anything in a third period all season, so heading into the final 20 minutes with the game tied appeared to be the perfect set-up for the Ducks.
In that third period of Game Four, however, the Blackhawks broke through – and may have broken Andersen.
Even with his teammates scoring three times in 37 seconds, it wasn’t enough for Andersen to win the game. He allowed three goals on 13 shots in the third period and the game-winner to Antoine Vermette in the second overtime. This performance would begin a startling downward trend for Andersen that has to be a concern for the Ducks moving forward.
In Game Five, even though the Ducks were able to escape with an overtime victory, Andersen allowed two goals to Jonathan Toews in the final two minutes of regulation to make what could have been a blowout home victory more thrilling than it should have been.
In Game Six, Andersen allowed another third period goal, this one coming in the wake of his teammates climbing back from a 3-0 deficit to be within one. It was a great play by Andrew Shaw – let’s not ignore the skill plays by Chicago – but another in a growing line of late game goals allowed by the Ducks netminder.
As the series has progressed, Andersen’s save percentage has plummeted:
- Game One – .970
- Game Two – .946
- Game Three – .964
- Game Four – .875
- Game Five – .857
- Game Six – .818
After allowing 23 goals in running up a 10-2 record in the first 12 games of the postseason, Andersen has allowed 13 goals in his last three games – and lost twice.
What’s more, his save percentage in the third period has been awful over the last three games. Andersen has allowed six goals against only 29 shots, good for a .793 third period save percentage.
If his confidence in himself was in question, his recent stretch of play late in games has to be giving Bruce Boudreau a moment of pause as the Ducks head home for Game Seven on Saturday night.