Andrew Hammond is now forced to shoulder the weight of Ottawa’s slim playoffs hopes as Craig Anderson is out with an injury.
If there has ever been a time for Andrew Hammond to prove that his incredible run last season wasn’t a fluke, it’s now.
On Tuesday night, Ottawa Senators’ goaltender Craig Anderson left the game late in the third period against the St. Louis Blues after suffering a lower body injury. It didn’t take an expert to see that Anderson tweaked his groin. And after trying to convince himself and the Senators’ team athletic therapist that he was ok, he confirmed to himself and the fans watching after attempting to move across the crease in butterfly motion that it was in fact an injury that is dreaded by any goaltender.
Following the injury, Hammond entered into the game for his first time in over a month – his last start came on Feb 11th in a 4-3 loss against the Colorado Avalanche. And, for coming in cold, Hammond looked incredible. Facing 17 shots and 11 shooters in the shootout, he let in just one goal – the one that ended the game after a combined total of 22 shootout attempts from both ends. Hard to put any blame at all on a guy who comes in cold and stops that many shots in a row.
Can Hammond Do It All Again?
No one forgets the run that Hammond took the team and city on last season. He made his first NHL start at the age of 27 in February and then ended the year going 20-1-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average and .941 save percentage to take the Senators to the postseason.
Despite those dazzling numbers, since the re-signing of Hammond and the decision to part with Robin Lehner, there have been several questions as to whether management made the right call. Hammond undoubtedly raised his value in his short burst of elite goaltending, but this season his numbers haven’t fared quite the same.
Though it’s hard to compare the season of Lehner and Hammond this year (due to Lehner’s lengthy injury) Hammond hasn’t shown the same spark he did late last season. Having played just 14 games this season, Hammond’s save percentage sits just above .900 with a goals-against average of 2.98 while his record is 3-6-3. He has also battle a few injuries this year, but at the same time, he hasn’t been given much of a chance to play. It’s very clear that he thrives under the pressure, but Anderson has been the one in those situations this year. How Hammond handles the pressure now could show that the Senators made the right decision taking a risk on the late bloomer.
Cameron says Anderson injury "is not as bad as it appeared" says it's more likely day to day.
— Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally) March 2, 2016
Although Anderson’s injury is said to be short term – as he is listed as day-to-day – Hammond will get at least one start against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
With the resounding boom of cheers Hammond got when he took Anderson’s place in net on Tuesday night, the nation’s capital seems ready for another taste of the Hamburglar.