Andrew Hammond is playing hockey and having fun. The Ottawa Senators 27 year-old rookie has taken to being in-goal like he was meant to be there all along. He is making an huge impression and leaving one as well.
After the Senators beat the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, he found himself in the company of only four other goalies in NHL history to get at least a point in each of their first fourteen starts.
After Monday night’s win over the Sharks, he joined an even smaller group:
#Senators Andrew Hammond becomes the 2nd goalie in NHL history to begin a career with 15 starts without a regulation loss.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) March 24, 2015
He is proving he has what it takes to play in the NHL, and having fun at the same time. And the Senators’ fans are, and so is Curtis Lazar.
After Monday night’s tilt against the Sharks, the Hamburglar has a GAA of 1.67 and a save percentage of .946. Oh, that along with two shutouts. His body of work is small, only 15 games played. But, the Bleacher Report noted that if he had played in enough games to qualify, he’d be ahead of league-leading Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. He is certainly an exciting addition to the normal NHL March plot line of playoff point and positioning.
The Boston Bruins are gripping right about now. They were holding onto the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 84 points, and the Senators were right behind them at 83. At least until Monday night.
Then Ottawa beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2 and now the Bruins who were idle, are a point behind the Senators, 85-84.
The Bruins don’t play again until Thursday night against the Anaheim Ducks. Not an easy task by any means. Meanwhile, the Senators are playing at a very high level. As our friends at Dobber Hockey pointed out Monday night:
— Dobber (@DobberHockey) March 24, 2015
Ottawa has found life in no small part due to the play of the Hamburglar. Of course he is not the sole reason for their late-season surge, but he has brought a confidence and energy to the team that is very much a part of their current run. Before the game with San Jose:
#Senators are an NHL-best 15-2-1 (.861) since February 13th
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) March 23, 2015
Check that. It’s now 16-2-1 with the win over the desperate Sharks. In an article by David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News after the morning skate, Coach Todd McLellan described the Sharks’ desperation:
“I think that’s fairly evident to the real rabid fan, but also to the casual fan, we’re in desperation mode — every point, every minute is important to our hockey club.”
Monday night that desperation was not enough for San Jose. The Hamburglar Andrew Hammond allowed only two goals, and the Senators’ momentum kept building. After the 5-2 win, the hamburgers rained onto the ice in tribute to yet another great performance by Hammond. He shut down Tommy Wingels nicely in the first:
The Hamburglar is making a name as a goalie who will rob opponents’ of goals with increasing frequency. In the second, he shut down Patrick Marleau:
And in the third, the Hamburglar struck again versus Joe Pavelski:
Wingels, Marleau, and Pavelski are really quality players. Andrew Hammond is proving to be a really quality goalie.
This is not to take away at all from Hammond’s counterpart Antti Niemi.
As you may remember from past articles I have penned, I love Nemo. I think he gets a lot of undeserved criticism. It wasn’t Niemi’s fault alone that was the result Monday night in Ottawa:
— Katie Weatherston (@ktweatherston) March 24, 2015
No, this isn’t about Nemo. More to the point, this is about a rookie getting a chance, taking advantage of it, and blowing it up. It’s exciting. It’s dramatic.
This is about the Hamburglar, Andrew Hammond. In the words of college basketball’s March Madness icon, Dick Vitale, “It’s awesome baby!
Mark Shiver is a staff writer for The Hockey Writers credentialed with the Carolina Hurricanes. You can follow him on Twitter @markshiver