The Ottawa Senators were well out of the playoff race and seemingly dead in the water this season, but once goaltender Andrew Hammond came into the picture, things turned around in a hurry.
With just 10 games to go in the regular season, the Senators have won seven games in a row and have won nine of their last 10 games, and they find themselves with a one point lead over the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. That recent surge has been keyed by the incredible play of Hammond, who has a sparkling 14-0-1 record with a 1.67 goals against average and a .946 save percentage.
Hammond's rise to prominence in the NHL was a surprising development for the Senators, who were relying on veteran goaltender (and former Chicago Blackhawks goalie) Craig Anderson. After he aggravated a hand injury recently, and Robin Lehner was also knocked out of action with an injury, Hammond was forced to play games as the starter, and he has since gone on a run that is nearly unrivalled in NHL history.
Hammond is only the second goaltender in NHL history to allow two or fewer goals in each of his first 12 career starts, becoming the first since Frank Brimsek accomplished the feat in the 1938-39 season to achieve that milestone.
What’s more remarkable about Hammond than his incredible rise to fame has been the way fans have responded to it. Nicknamed “The Hamburglar,” Hammond’s victories have been punctuated by fans throwing hamburgers onto the ice at Senators home games, and after one such game Hammond actually ate the burger in celebration.
Now though, the Senators and Hammond are looking to turn the phenomenon into something positive for society. The team is asking fans to donate money to local food banks in the Ottawa area, and Senators head coach Dave Cameron was enthusiastic about the idea.
“I thought that was a great idea and sometimes you appreciate the support and enthusiasm of your fans, but sometimes it can be channeled in a better way and I would certainly back that up,” he said.
Senators’ fans embracing Hammond got us to thinking: what food items would fans throw on the ice for their favorite Chicago Blackhawks players? Doughnuts for Duncan Keith? Candy canes for Patrick Kane? Swedish meatballs for Niklas Hjalmarsson?
We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.