At 11 a.m. today (CST) the Senators had a team meeting at their Winnipeg hotel.
At 11:01 a.m. it was done.
Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond stayed in the meeting room with goalie coach Rick Wamsley. Not sure if Dave Cameron sat in.
At 11:05 a.m., Anderson, Hammond, Wamsley (and maybe Cameron) emerged.
Judging by the disposition of the two goalies, it was hard to determine which had been told he would start in goal this evening against the Jets.
At 11:25 a.m., Cameron told the media it would be Anderson.
After explaining the decision and answering questions, Cameron walked away. Anderson, who sat on a bench down the hallway, was supposed to be up next. While we waited, reporters chatted with David Legwand.
And then, in a bizarre turn of events, at approximately 11:40 a.m. Cameron came back to inform us Hammond would be starting. At first, I thought he was joking. But Cameron doesn’t do a lot of that, especially on game days.
Cameron said Anderson wasn’t “quite comfortable”. Apparently, the bruised hand injury he suffered exactly six weeks ago was acting up again. Not sure why he didn’t tell Cameron or Wamsley this during the meetings. I asked to speak with Anderson and was told I now couldn’t, because he isn’t starting.
I’m not sure why he wasn’t allowed to explain himself, or didn’t want to, in a quick, painless conversation with the media.
So now Hammond (5-0-1) is making his seventh consecutive start, which I think should have been the call in the first place (see below) while Anderson serves as back up. Unless Anderson’s condition worsens before game time, I suppose.
I do wonder if Anderson can step in if something happens to Hammond during the game. After Cameron originally announced Anderson as the starter, I asked if the 55-year old Wamsley would be available to step in, in an emergency, like a slightly younger Rob Tallis did in Florida. Cameron chuckled and said he wasn’t going to comment on that.
If Anderson can’t start, I don’t see how he can back up.
Anyway, what follows is my opinion around 10 a.m., back before any of the above transpired.
As far as the ability to keep pucks out of a net, I like Craig Anderson. I think he is a very solid goalie.
What I don’t like is the disappearing act he has pulled for the last four winters. Self-inflicted chicken carving wounds, sprained ankles, stingers, bruised hands … let’s be kind and just say Anderson has been very unlucky.
On the flip side, there is Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond, the 27-year old minor leaguer who in the last two weeks has written one of the best individual stories we can remember.
What’s been better – Mike Brodeur hustling from Binghamton to Madison Square Garden, carrying his own hockey bag up the ramp to the dressing room and then shutting out the New York Rangers? Not bad, but Brodeur was more of a one-game wonder and, as far as we can tell, not nearly the same quality of human being as Hammond.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, a rookie and hometown kid, scoring three times in one of the team’s best playoff games of all-time – over the hated Montreal Canadiens at that? Good one too, but again, more of a fleeting moment that what The Hamburgular has accomplished in reviving the Senators chances at a post-season spot this year.
In his first victory, a 42-saver over the Habs Feb. 18 at CTC, some people said Hammond had horseshoes. Exhibit A was the post Brandon Prust hit with a wide open net in the first period. Okay, so maybe the Hockey Gods were on his side that night, and maybe they haven’t strayed too far since. But you also have to be good to be lucky, right? And in stringing together a 5-0-1 record in six consecutive starts, Hammond has also been very good.
So now, with the Senators road-trip closing, all-important tilt against the Winnipeg Jets just a few hours away, we await the decision of coach Dave Cameron, who is expected to tell us which of Anderson or Hammond he will start in goal at MTS Centre.
Andy or Andy.
The unlucky guy or the lucky guy.
I’m listening to the “twitter poll” Steve Lloyd and Chris Stevenson are holding on TSN1200′s “In The Box” right now. The majority are saying Anderson should start tonight. And I just don’t get it.
Whether it’s good karma or the Senators playing harder for the old rookie, there is definitely something magical going on with the Hammond run right now.
Why interrupt that?
Why tempt fate?
The Senators will need to get all the luck they can to make the playoffs. And Anderson will be a factor at some point. But right now, you’ve got to run with The Hamburglar.
It’s been exactly six weeks since Anderson started a game. You want the cold guy over the hot guy? Hammond isn’t tired or worn down. He is pumped up. He can’t wait to play another NHL game. Run with that.
I remember in one of Anderson’s first games back from injury, at the Bell Centre, he let in a soft goal or two. In over 360 minutes as a starter, Hammond still hasn’t given up a weak one.
No, this is an easy decision, as far as I’m concerned.
Cameron is expected to tell us what he’s doing in about an hour, when the Senators finish with a team meeting at their Winnipeg hotel. Of course, you can’t be sure with Super Dave, either. He may yet become the first Senators coach to say his choice for starting goalie will be a “game time decision.”