The beginning of Frederik Andersen’s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs got off to a rough start one year ago. Not only did he have to adjust to a new team in a new country, but he also had to fight through an injury.
Andersen suffered a concussion in an Olympic qualifier roughly 2 1/2 months after being acquired in a trade by the Maple Leafs from the Anaheim Ducks. The Danish netminder was unable to represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and was still recovering when Toronto opened its training camp. Andersen managed to suit up for the season opener but proceeded to lose four of his first five starts in a Maple Leafs uniform, allowing 22 goals over that stretch.
On the eve of the 2017-18 campaign, the Maple Leafs’ starting netminder is in a much better situation than he was at this time last year.
“I feel a lot better. It’s been nice to be part of training camp and all the stuff leading up to the season,” Andersen told Hockey Central at Noon Tuesday. It’s nice to be up to 100 per cent and also feel really comfortable around the rink. Everyone around the team you know by now. Only a few new faces to get to know and I think all that stuff just adds up to feeling really good and comfortable right away.”
Andersen, who turned 28 Monday, finished with a respectable 33-16-14 record and .918 save percentage but a 2.67 goals-against average is a number both he and the team would like to see change.
“It’s something we definitely want to improve and we know that playing structured and playing fast out of our own zone is something that’s going to help bring that down over a long season,” Andersen said. “But also we know that’s how to win in the playoffs—to limit the opponent’s chances and goals obviously.”
Andersen spent much of his summer training in California, where he was hoping to improve his conditioning, so he feels energetic in the crease late in the season.
“I got a little bit leaner and I think that was the main goal and just keep up the strength that I do have and that’s been the focus from last year, making that jump to play a little bit more and being used to being an almost every-night starter,” he added.
Andersen made a career high 66 regular-season appearances in 2016-17 and played his first six post-season games.