Ottawa Senators freshman Andrew Hammond

Ottawa Senators freshman Andrew Hammond

Hammond, Senators chase NHL record, playoff spot against Boston Bruins

The 27-year-old White Rock freshman has gone 11-0-1 to start his career, not allowing more than two goals in any of those first 12 games.

  • Dec. 31, 2013 12:00 p.m.

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It’s perfect, isn’t it?

On a night Andrew Hammond goes for a nearly 80-year NHL record, his Ottawa Senators head into a ‘four-point game’ just four points behind the Boston Bruins, with both teams in pursuit of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

So not only could Hammond accomplish something incredible – adding an official all-time entry onto a Cinderella season that’s come as a surprise to many, well, everybody – but his Senators could creep one game closer to a postseason that, not long ago, appeared well out of reach.

All they have to do is beat Boston. And it appears the Bruins don’t know all that much about their most imposing opponent.

“I heard he likes to eat McDonald’s,” said Beantown forward Brad Marchand, Wednesday (NHL.com). “That’s about it.”

The White Rock-raised Hammond, nicknamed the Hamburglar, made his first-ever NHL start in February, filling the capital city’s nets after injuries to No. 1 Craig Anderson and backup Robin Lehner. He’s gone 11-0-1 and has yet to allow more than two goals in any of those games – that’s the record by the way, which Hammond now shares with Frank Brimsek (who set the mark in 1938-39).

He’s also getting free McDonald’s for life, at six Ottawa locations.

“So he’s obviously playing well. I think that’s also a good compliment to their team,” Marchand continued. “Their team’s playing very well in front of him right now, which definitely helps him. So tomorrow we’re going to have to be even better because of that. He’s obviously not giving up a lot of goals. So we’re going to have to be very tight defensively. Hopefully if we can do that, we can pot a couple and hopefully it’s enough to win.”

Of course, the Bruins have heard a little bit more of Hammond by now. More than Marchand’s letting on, certainly.

The rookie goalie – who’s not actually a rookie, since he’s 27 years old – has been the talk of the league all March, while the entire fanbase watches Ottawa’s climb toward Boston’s hold on eighth.

On Tuesday, Hammond tied Brimsek’s record with a 2-1 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes – a game won in Raleigh on a fantastic goal set-up by New Westminster’s Kyle Turris.

“It was awesome to tie that record tonight,” Hammond said after the win (SurreyLeader.com). Maybe (the NHL) caters to my game a little bit more… The guys at this level are so skilled they make the play more often than not. For me, a big part of my game is just reading the play and maybe that helps a little bit.”

He’s been the league’s feel-good story of the season, in a year flush with feel-good goalie stories, with nods to Michael Hutchinson and Devan Dubnyk, even Eddie Lack, specifically.

And he’s not the only first-years playing a pivotal role with Ottawa this season.

Rookies Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone have been big-time offensive contributors, with 42 and 46 points respectively. And Vernon’s Curtis Lazar, who last season won a Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings, has been grinding it out on the team’s bottom six. (Lazar has started every game in March, and his minutes have increased as the playoffs creep closer.)

But it’s Hammond, an overaged former AHLer, who’s grabbed the spotlight and stolen wins.

“And some of the saves (Hammond) makes – when any goalie makes them you kind of shake your head,” Stone said, Sunday.

“But for him to be that stable this early in his NHL career is spectacular to see.”

VIDEO: Hammond celebrates shootout win with Hamburger

 

 

 

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