Andrew Hammond’s run as Ottawa’s No. 1 could soon be coming to a close.
While this sounds a tad reactionary in the wake of Hammond’s first — and only — regulation loss of the season, consider the following:
• Hammond looked shaky in Thursday’s 5-1 defeat to the Rangers, most notably on this Chris Kreider tally late in the first period. But rather than chalk it up to a stinker performance — the ‘burglar was due for one, after all — the party line afterward was that Hammond’s playing hurt, reportedly still feeling the effects of a collision with San Jose’s Logan Couture from Monday night.
Hammond suggested he’s not 100 percent, with Sens head coach Dave Cameron adding he’s “beat up a little bit.” Today, Hammond didn’t take part in Ottawa’s optional skate and was seen limping out of the rink. This could be a legit injury, or it could be general wear and tear; it’s important to remember that, for all his heroics, Hammond has never played more than 48 games in a single season and the weight of his recent workload — 17 games in 38 days — has been heightened by the pressure of Ottawa’s playoff push.
• Craig Anderson (hand) is pretty much ready to go. On Thursday, Cameron told the Ottawa Sun that if Anderson was able to take shots off his blocker, “that’s a good sign. There was talk that he might be able to [back up] if he took some shots off the blocker.”
And guess what Anderson did on Friday?
There was some thought that Anderson could be eased back into the lineup by serving as Hammond’s No. 2 for Saturday’s game in Toronto. Now, though, it seems as though Andy could be the No. 1 this weekend, with the Hamburglar backing up.
• From there, things would get interesting. After the Leafs tilt, Ottawa has eight games remaining; Anderson would obviously need a lot of work to get back into game shape, given he’s only made two appearances over the last two months. It’s important to remember that, before the Hamburglar took off, Anderson was enjoying a pretty successful season himself, going 14-12-7 with a 2.44 GAA, .925 save percentage and three shutouts.
Anderson also has a decided advantage over Hammond with regards to playoff experience — 23 games to zero — and in his last postseason appearance (2013), Anderson allowed just nine goals on 180 shots, good for a .950 save percentage, in an opening-round victory over Montreal.
• Finally, it’s worth noting that Dave Cameron has gone with Anderson in big spots before. Two weeks ago he said it was Anderson, not Hammond, that gave Ottawa the best chance to win for a crucial tilt against Boston.