Veteran Frederik Andersen the rock the Toronto Maple Leafs need against the Washington Capitals

What? Me, worry? Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

Back when Frederik Andersen was tending goal for the Anaheim Ducks, he tied the NHL record for reaching 50 career wins the fastest, established by Hall of Famer Bill Durnan.

To reward his teammates for their help, the big Dane had Bang & Olufsen audio products put in each of his teammates' stalls by the training staff.

It's not that Andersen's generosity was surprising, but it was instructive given his rather impenetrable public persona. Regardless of how he might seem from the outside, the message was clear: He's a good fit.

This is also the case now that he's with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have played the deep, potent Washington Capitals to a standstill. Their first-round series, tied 1-1 after two overtime games, shifts to Toronto for Games 3-4 on Monday and Friday.

"He's perfect," said Brian Boucher, a national TV analyst and retired longtime NHL goalie. "He's calm in the net. Not much rattles him."

Apparently not even Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin's bearing down on a breakaway late in the first overtime Saturday night -- the big redhead calmly turned aside the scoring chance with the game and series momentum on the line.

Andersen can look nonchalant, Boucher noted. "But it's a calming effect that you can have on your teammates."

In exchange for Andersen, the Leafs gave the Ducks a first-round pick (30th overall) in 2016 and a second-round pick in this June's draft. They then immediately signed Andersen to a five-year deal worth an average of $5 million annually, which is about the same amount of revenue that will be generated by the two home playoff dates for the Leafs this week. In short, the contract was worth every penny.

Never mind the drafting of the young stars -- Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, et al. -- Andersen, 27, might be the single-most important piece of a Leaf puzzle that has shockingly coming together against the favored Capitals.

"He just allows a young team to play," said former goalie Darren Eliot, now a TV analyst for the Detroit Red Wings. "He's not perfect. But he's low maintenance."

No, not perfect.

Sure, he should have stopped Tom Wilson's sharp wrist shot from the boards early in overtime in Game 1. But to see -- no, to feel Andersen's calm in Game 2, even way up in the press box at the cowbell-ringing, clamorous Verizon Center, was something of a revelation.

"He's been the backbone of this team all year," said Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly. "He's been outstanding night in and night out. His calmness is felt by all his teammates, and I think that when we're out there playing and we know he's behind us, it gives us that much more confidence. Him as a person, he's calm, calculated, quiet, and I think that just translates to his play."

It's not just about gathering experience from being here in the playoffs, Andersen said.

"We want to be here for real," he said. "Everyone's talking about how it's been expected us to just make the playoffs. But we want to do more."

The Capitals, with their experience and depth, are still heavy favorites to win the series. Add to that the fact the Leafs, already thin along the blue line, will be without Roman Polak, who is gone for the season with a leg injury sustained in Game 2. But it's also quite clear Andersen has been a key to leveling the playing field.

"I think it has changed the dynamic," said former NHL goalie Brent Johnson, now a Capitals TV analyst. "The days of just being a wall in net are long gone. He is very active with all his limbs, and his aggressive play and explosiveness are built for the playoffs. Also, he battles like hell."

Two springs ago, Andersen helped guide the Ducks to a Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. But as that series against the Chicago Blackhawks unfolded, you could sense Andersen was fading. And a little was just enough for the Blackhawks to defeat the Ducks at home and eventually go on to win the Stanley Cup.

More mature now, Andersen is enabling a young Leafs team to acclimatize to the rigors of the postseason without having to pay for every mistake. Most notably, his play has covered for a slow start by Matthews, who has yet to collect a point in the series.

More than simply staying close, Andersen has given the Leafs something few thought they would have two games into this series: hope.