It might be the end of the line for the storied Ottawa Senators.
A magical run to make the 2015 postseason is just one game away from being absolute history, as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Senators 2-1 in overtime for a commanding 3-0 series lead. Craig Anderson was in net for this game as Andrew Hammond had allowed seven goals on 81 shots in the previous two games — the change in net was not enough.
Now, Ottawa faces a similar dilemma that the 7-3-0 end-of-the-season Dallas Stars face; was the real team the one that missed the playoffs, or was it the team that made a strong push at the end? The Senators’ magical late-season run ended on April 11 with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, which capped off a 22-4-4 stretch since Feb. 10. At the forefront was The Hamburglar Hammond, who ended the season with a remarkable 20-1-2 record with three shutouts. Is the 27-year-old rookie the real deal or was this just an astonishing run for an AHL goalie?
Sens general manager Bryan Murray has a lot to think about with his team this coming offseason (among other things). The team is housing multiple RFAs, including Mika Zidanejad, Alex Chiasson, Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman, while Erik Condra and Hammond are the two UFAs. What is Hammond’s value? Does he deserve an NHL contract?
These are the questions that GMs despise answering, but it comes with the territory. That’s why NHL clubs hire as many coaches and scouts as they do; evaluate their talent on a day-by-day basis to determine who fits where and who deserves which paycheck. It’s a job that most do not envy.
Facing elimination with zero wins under your belt is a difficult situation, but the clock has not struck midnight just yet on the Cinderella story. The Canadiens know that Ottawa is the last team in this year’s playoffs to give up without a fight.
More on the Canadiens-Senators, as well as the rest of what’s cooking in the NHL follows:
10 tweets that sum up Game 3 in Ottawa. [CBC.ca]
Where has Bobby Ryan been this series? [Today’s Slapshot]
Erik Karlsson laid out a massive hit on Nathan Beaulieu. [Hockey Feed]
John Tavares scored 15 seconds into overtime to stun the Capitals in Game 3. [Deadspin]
Capitals forward Eric Fehr was injured in Game 3. [Washington Post]
A crazy game in Calgary has the Flames cutting the Canucks’ series lead in half. [Puck Daddy]
Kevin Bieksa lost it on Flames forward Michael Ferland in Game 3. [CBS Sports]
The Blackhawks won, recapturing the series lead against Nashville. [SB Nation]
The Predators’ playoff hopes will surely dwindle without Shea Weber in the lineup. [The Hockey News]
Prepare for Game 3 of Blues-Wild right here. [Hockey Buzz]