March has not been great for Frederik Andersen in net for the Carolina Hurricanes. Some might blame the recently pithy goal scoring ability of the Canes, but both the offense and defense has given themselves the chances to win only to have Andersen blow them with lackluster goaltending. At 5-4-1, Andersen has given up 24 on the month. While his first and only shut-out of the season occurred in March it the month meant to come in like a lion and leave a lamb has been all lion for Andersen
This is not to say Frederik Andersen has not had some highlight reel stops in March. He certainly has. His shutout against the Tampa Bay Lighting was tremendous. Flashes of the old Frederik have shown since. Carolina’s 3-2 loss to Detroit was certainly kept close by Andersen standing on his head. He had great stops throughout the game, but was not able to stop a last second dump shot to force overtime. Thus I have lately begun to equate Frederik Andersen to the student who barely does their homework, and when grades are due asks if there is any extra credit they can do to pull up their grade.
Since losing to the New York Rangers on March 23, Andersen has two scoreless periods in three games. One of those was the first period of the Rangers game. Carolina would lose that game 2-1 after Andersen gave up goals in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Andersen’s other scoreless period was the 3rd against the Boston Bruins on March 26th, and the Hurricanes were already down by 3. Late goals would put the Canes and Bruins into overtime, and a subsequent shootout. It took only two shots from the Bruins to put Andersen and Carolina away with the 4-3 loss.
Andersen’s inability to keep teams from scoring in 7 of 9 periods means the Hurricanes have had to play 180 minutes of hockey behind in the game, OR having come from behind. Even without the scoring drought, that makes winning harder. The Hurricanes have not been behind, come from behind, or tied with Andersen in the net since March 7 against the Canadien when Antti Raanta was relieved due to injury. Andersen would come in and immediately give up 2 goals in the last two periods. The Canes would need overtime and a shoutout winning goal from Jesperi Kotkaniemi to win that game 4-3.
Going into the playoffs, the need for solid goaltending is critical. Teams tend to grab a lead and shut down by amping up their defensive efforts. If Carolina, and more importantly Frederik Andersen is not able to keep 0s on the scoreboard, or at least keep fewer pucks out of the net, the playoff run is going to be much shorter than it should be. Should this mediocre play continue, I cannot help but think that it might be time for the Hurricanes to look elsewhere for a #1 goalie, or consider bumping Antti Raanta up into that position and bring Pyotr Kochetkov up from Chicago for good. Frederik Andersen has been critical for the Carolina Hurricanes in the past, and I understand this year has been made more difficult with injury but there comes a point when not being able to stop the puck is detrimental to your team. Without a very quick improvement from Andersen, I think that time has come and maybe even gone.