Atlantic Playoff Update: Goalie Struggle Is Real

Atlantic Playoff Update: Goalie Struggle Is Real
Chris Wassel

In the playoffs, scoring is going to often come and in bunches. It does not necessarily mean the goaltending was bad, this just means the struggle is real. Think of it in this context: Were Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick bad goalies in last year’s playoffs? The answer is certainly no.  Yet every game felt like it was 4-2 or 4-3, etc. It was just a high level of play that carried throughout the series and the goalies just have to hold on tight to keep from even more goals being scored.

Game 1 on Wednesday night was not that type of scenario. It was not pretty at all. There was that wild second period with what felt like a million combined shots. Actually 36 shots went on net and six went in that period. Montreal ultimately went on to win the game 4-3 and yet you had the feeling like more goals could have been scored.


Andrew Hammond Struggles in First Playoff Game

It was an interesting way to put it, but Montreal was constantly either in front of Andrew Hammond or screening him (sometimes both). The book on Hammond is to get him to think too much and the Canadiens finally managed to do that in the second period whereas they did not in the first.

All it took was less than ten minutes of actual playing time and Game 1 was pretty much over. Four goals on 19 shots in one period will generally decide an outcome in most cases. People will say Hammond was not himself and that is true. Remember, this was his first playoff game.

A few months ago he was stopping pucks in Binghamton.

It was bound to happen but in a game without Max Pacioretty, maybe this just was not as probable. After all, Pacioretty had scored 37 goals and four of them in four games against Ottawa. He was a real thorn in their side and he was gone. P.K. Subban was ejected in the second period for slashing Mark Stone.

The Senators had all these chances and yet the result was still a loss.

The key on Wednesday night was Hammond not making the saves on the second and third goals. Maybe the Brian Flynn wrap-around was a bit shaky too but I have seen better goalies give that one up as well. Allowing four goals on 39 shots is not that bad for a first playoff game.

It is not so good considering the opportunity Ottawa had and also the fact that the Senators played a great first period on the road only to let it slip away.

There is no doubt in this world that the Ottawa goaltender is going to have to play better if Ottawa expects to have a better chance in this series but the team also got drawn into a pace of play that does not always suit them. If they yield a high amount of shots and chances, no matter what they are going to give up at least three goals most every game in this series. Hammond can play better but will he? Game 2 will be telling.


Price Almost Went Down In Atlantic

It was starting to look like the Toronto game as it seemed Carey Price gave up a goal in a variety of ways that were not all his fault. Ultimately he did give up three goals but the likely Vezina and Hart Trophy winner did not wilt under the pressure. He found a way to maintain enough of his composure. That helped preserve the 4-3 Game 1 victory over Ottawa which they had to have considering they were missing two players.

Will Price have to play better than he did? That answer might be yes. Honestly, the Senators fired 33 shots at him and there were lots of missed chances in Game 1. There were some big saves that had to make you feel emboldened as a Montreal Canadiens fan. Then there was this….

All anyone knows is that Ottawa generated a whopping 16 even-strength chances in Game 1. Can they keep doing that? Yes. Can this Montreal goalie keep holding down the fort? Yes he can. The reality is Ottawa now knows they are in for an even bigger fight and since they announced their intentions basically of fighting like mad after the Mark Stone injury, this might be a shorter series than most expect. Stay tuned Atlantic Division fans.

Chris Wassel

Never stop learning! That has always been my philosophy in life. It applies to hockey writing so well as new challenges are something to strive for. I have been a fantasy hockey writer way back when it wasn’t quite so cool, covered the Devils for a variety of places and still do, have a small hockey site of my own, and even write about all things NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, etc. Usually I am first asked who I don’t write for. For Today’s Slapshot, I will be covering the Atlantic Division.

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