The Ottawa Senators are on the edge of elimination at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens as they square-off for game four on Wednesday night. A first round sweep is never a good thing and a sweep after a cinderella run to the postseason is not what the Senators or their fans were hoping for.
What the Senators have been doing has not been working. The Canadiens have been the better team and
have gotten better goaltending off the back of Carey Price. Andrew Hammond has not been horrible between the pipes, but his regular season magic appears to have worn off and after Craig Anderson got the nod in-game three, it’s time for the Senators to stick with Anderson.
In game three Anderson came to play. He looked stellar in-goal stopping 47 of 49 shots before eventually falling in overtime. Anderson’s play gave the Senators life in the game and almost a lifeline in the series. He looked good, really good, much like he did when he stoned the Canadiens in the 2013 postseason.
Anderson has played in just 4 games between the regular season and game 3 since returning from a hand injury, which opened the door of Hammond. Hammond has been the hot goaltender down the stretch and has stopped 74 of 81 shots faced against in his first playoff hockey appearance for a .914 save percentage. Not horrible numbers, but he has failed to record a “W” and as a result the Senators need a change.
Hammond’s Lack of Experience
Where Anderson has the leg up is playoff experience. Before this season, Hammond had no NHL playoff experience and very little AHL playoff experience. In fact, before his jaw dropping 20-1-2 run with the Senators, he was a mediocre AHL goaltender going 7-13-2 with a .898 save percentage and 3.51 goals against average in the AHL this season.
The undrafted Hammond’s spaceship had to come back down to earth at some point. Very rarely does a sub par or average goaltender in the AHL, NCAA or ECHL become a bonified number-one NHL goaltender. Hot streaks are one thing and can be extended by some lucky bounces, but when the luck runs out, whats left after is not what was first expected.
We’ve seen this with James Reimer and the Maple Leafs over the last few seasons. Reimer was an average goaltender in the ECHL who started hot in the NHL. Then the playoffs hit and things began to fall apart. Since his brief playoff stint, he has not been the same goaltender he was at the start of his NHL career.
Andrew Hammond is 20-1-2. He didn’t make the NHL until he was 27 and had an .898 save % in the AHL this year. Totally insane.
— Conor McKenna (@mckennaconor) April 11, 2015
The Hamburglar’s run was nice to see and it helped the Senators make a historic playoff run, but at some point experience has to win out.
The Case For Anderson
The playoffs are a whole other beast where pretenders fade and contenders rise to the challenge. Hammond has not been able to rise to the challenge in his first round of NHL playoff taste, which is why Craig Anderson needs to be given the keys to the crease.
The 33 year-old Anderson has over a decade worth of NHL experience on his resume and 3 prior playoff stints. He was in net when the Senators last beat the Canadiens in a five-game series in 2013 and could be the spark needed to ignite a comeback.
In Anderson’s 23 playoff games before this series, he has a 10-12 record with impressive 2.60 goals against average and .926 save percentage.
While he’s only escaped the first round once in his postseason career, he has the experience of being a tested number-one goaltender and the Senators signed him to a three-year extension in the offseason pointing to the fact they are relying on him as their go-to goaltender.
The Senators stuck with Hammond through the first two games of the series and found themselves down 0-2. The Canadiens are scoring on him with ease, it’s time for a change. The Senators need to go with Anderson in-game four if they have any hopes of mounting a comeback in this series. He has the experience, was signed to be the man between the pipes and could give the team a spark where a momentum swing is needed.