It has been the terrifying question mark all off-season long. Did the Ottawa Senators make the right move trading Robin Lehner? Is Andrew Hammond all that he is made out to be, or was last season just a fluke?
And to add to the mound of questions, a groin injury in the pre-season caused him to miss the first few games of the year. Nothing like fueling the growing fire.
After Hammond’s first game of the season, those questions remained difficult to answer. He played well, but, the team didn’t play well in front of him. Allowing 5 goals in that game, his numbers were less than impressive to start off his year. The questions remained as he awaited his next start.
Through that though, Craig Anderson has been giving fans little to worry about. Off to a rough start, the Senators have arguably been held together by their goaltending. After 7 games Anderson held a 2.78 GAA and a .914 SV%. Not bad numbers for a team that, before playing in Detroit on Friday night, held a record of 4-3-2.
Once Friday came, game 1 of the home and home against the Red Wings was to be started by Hammond, and he delivered.
A game that saw the Senators on the penalty kill 5 times, Hammond was the deciding factor for Ottawa. With 29 saves on the night, the Hamburglar seemed to be back into full swing. The only shot that got by Hammond was on a 5-on-3, the second two-man advantage the Red Wings had all night.
The Senators still delivered a bit of a rocky performance. They had obvious trouble staying out of the box and nearly let Detroit tie the game up late in the third. Yet, Hammond stood his ground, making several game saving saves.
Against the Red Wings, Hammond looked like he did last season for Ottawa. Being able to see that type of performance helps Sens fans and management rest a little easier, knowing that he does still have it in him.
Obviously Anderson has been given the starting roll, but, only good things can come from Hammond having games like these. If that continues, it may only force the hand of Dave Cameron to give the Hamburglar more opportunities to start games.
Having that confidence in your backup goaltender can be a huge boost for a team. Over the many things that are difficult about playing back to back games, the last thing players coaches want to worry about is their backup goalie not doing his job.
If the Hamburglar can continue what he’s done last season, we may see him more often than not. Get your masks ready.