Andersen is A-OK
Andersen is A-OK
Anaheim’s Danish goalie rolls on in NHL
That’s appropriate, since the 25-year-old native of Herning, Denmark is wearing a stunning LEGO-themed mask this season. The famous plastic bricks for children were invented in Denmark, and the mask art shows Andersen as a LEGO character, building a LEGO wall in front of his net.
Currently boasting the league's second-best goals-against average (1.56) and third-best save percentage (94.3), the towering Andersen has truly been a trailblazer as the first Danish-born and trained NHL netminder. A strong puckhandler with excellent athleticism, he became the first NHL goalie ever to win 26 of his first 31 games. Between October 17 and 22, the second-year NHLer recorded a scoreless streak of 152 minutes and 46 seconds over three games. No wonder the Ducks are vying for the overall lead in the league standings.
Does this four-time IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship participant (2009-2012) have what it takes to sustain a flourishing NHL career? The experts believe so.
Kevin Woodley, managing partner of the InGoal Magazine, explains: “Andersen was already a technically solid, if not superior, goaltender when he arrived in the NHL, thanks in part to a diverse background that included time at camps with Francois Allaire and, perhaps more importantly, his 2011-12 season in Sweden, where the level of top-to-bottom goaltending coaching is rivalled only by Finland. This manifests itself in things like post play, and Andersen is already smoother and more efficient moving into and off his posts than many well-established NHL goaltenders, a big factor in today’s game. I believe that a good technical base and a strong tactical plan will generally lead to more consistent goaltending than someone who plays more by feel and instinct, and Andersen has both.”Continue reading
IIHF.com caught up with Andersen by phone from Anaheim after a Ducks practice in November.
How do you feel about the way you’ve played so far this season?
I’m feeling good in the net. I’ve been pretty happy about how the games have been going. I’m feeling comfortable and settling in really nicely this year. I still have a few things that I need to work on, but I think it’s going well. Obviously you can’t be too satisfied this early in the season.
Not many NHL goalies have this much success early on. How do you explain it?
I’ve been playing on a really good team. Everyone comes to play every night. That’s obviously why my record is what it is. You don’t see a goalie win a lot of games if he doesn’t have a good team in front of him. I’ve been really fortunate with that. I also have to give credit to my goalie coach, Dwayne Roloson. He’s got a lot of experience that is really fresh, and he teaches me everything he can with his experiences from his career.
Speaking of Roloson, he nearly ended up making a comeback at age 45 on November 2 when you were out of the lineup and your backup, John Gibson, got hurt pre-game. What did you think of that?
It was kind of a crazy day, I guess, where [Roloson] needed to be ready to get in. It was unfortunate, obviously, a situation like that. You don’t like to see that. Hopefully we can battle through the injuries that happened. I’m sure we will, and the team will respond well to this. But you never like to see anyone go down like that.
As you said, it’s too bad Gibson is going to miss a few weeks with a groin strain. He’s a great young partner for you. How do you two get along?
I like him as a person. He’s nice, and he’s kind of similar to me with his calmness. We get along really well off the ice. That’s really nice when you have two young goalies who can have a good friendship with each other and the rest of the team.
What made you idolize Patrick Roy when you were a kid?
I liked his mentality of just wanting to win every night. That was the cool thing about him. He was obviously one of the greatest goalies ever. His mentality...that’s what it’s all about. I looked up to that when I was growing up.
What inspired your LEGO mask? Were you really into LEGO at one time?
I was, but it actually wasn’t my idea. It was all from my painter, Dave Gunnarsson. He’s a great painter and a creative artist. He comes up with these ideas all the time. He asked me, because he knew I’m from Denmark. LEGO was invented, I think, about an hour from where I grew up. It’s pretty popular back home. Me and my siblings have tons of that stuff in different boxes back home. That was kind of the inspiration. Then I said that it could be a cool idea with the LEGO guy building a LEGO brick wall.
How about your other mask inspired by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs?
That was Dave again. That’s a really cool one. It’s a little rougher than the LEGO mask, a little more grown-up. I’m happy to have him as my painter.
You’re a fan of Teemu Selanne’s restaurant in Laguna Beach, Selanne Steak Tavern. What’s your review?
It’s a good little place. They opened up last year. I like steak, so I usually go with that.
With Teemu’s passion for hockey, can you see him ever making a comeback?
I don’t know. I’m just happy that I got to play with him for one year. He’s one of the greatest players in this sport, so it was a treat. We’ll see. Time will tell.
What’s your favourite memory from your four World Championships?
That’s definitely got to be my first game in 2010. It was against Finland and that was our big upset.
Thirty-six saves for you in a 4-1 opening win, with Pekka Rinne at the other end. Pretty special, and you guys went on to finish eighth, Denmark’s best World Championship result ever.
Yeah, that was my favourite moment, how we won that game. I joke around with [Ducks defenceman] Sami [Vatanen] a little bit. He was on that Finnish team at the team, so I’ve got the bragging rights against him, even though we didn’t know each other back then. It was a fun thing for Denmark.
What did that performance do for your career?
If you’ve got to pinpoint one exact game, that meant a lot to Denmark and to me. Obviously, there were more people paying attention to the World Championship in Denmark than usual. It was pretty huge for my career.
Who are your closest friends in Danish hockey?
I know Frans Nielsen pretty well and Peter Regin. They’re from my hometown of Herning, the same as Nicklas Jensen in Vancouver. I played with Lars Eller and Mikkel Bodker on the national team and in junior programs growing up. We’re the same age. But I know Frans and Peter Regin the best.
What will it mean for Danish hockey to have the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Copenhagen and Herning?
That’s great. We’ve been trying a long time to get it, I think, and we were finally able to get the message through to the people who were voting that it could be a great event for Denmark and for international hockey. It’ll be a cool opportunity for Denmark to show what we can do. I’m sure we’ll have a great success in planning the tournament. Copenhagen is a beautiful city, and Herning, while obviously smaller, is nice too. I like it a lot since I grew up there. We have some new rinks there. It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes.
How do you like Denmark’s chances of qualifying for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea?
It’s a long time from now, but I think we have a lot of good young players coming through the system now. I think with the fact that we have more and more NHL players, our chances should be better and better every time there’s an Olympic Qualification. We’ve been close the last couple of times, but came up short. I think next time should be the time where it actually happens. It’s a ways away, so I’m going to wait and keep my focus on what’s happening here [in Anaheim].
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