The Ottawa Senators vs Montreal Canadiens series hasn’t lacked drama in the early going.
So far, fans have witnessed:
- P.K. Subban’s slash heard ’round the playoffs
- Dave Cameron’s Clint-Eastwood-esque threat
- Mark Stone miraculous return
- two fast-paced, tightly-checked, fall-of-your-couch-or-bar-stool games
- and this:
— NHL EXPERT PICKS (@NHLexpertpicks) April 18, 2015
The Montreal Canadiens find themselves up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and have flexed their recent playoffs experience while dispatching the Senators and defending home ice advantage.
But the most impactful play during the series’ early going has happened inside the creases. Andrew Hammond hasn’t looked much like the Hamburglar that sparked the Senators’ playoff push. And Carey Price has looked virtually unflappable. Let’s take a deeper look at the early trends for Hammond and Price before the series shifts back to Ottawa for Game 3.
Advanced Shot Data
— NHL (@NHL) April 15, 2015
First, get the obvious out of the way: this sample is really small. Analytics and the playoffs are natural enemies. Even in a team played the 28-game maximum en route to the Stanley Cup, the amount of data available for collection would still be relatively low.
However, goalie analytics at this micro-level are useful for examining specific play so far relative to regular season production.
Here’s a look at Andrew Hammond and Carey Price and their puck-stopping rates in the low, medium, and high danger zones. (For more on the zones, check here).
|Andrew Hammond||Carey Price|
|Low Sv% (regular season)||97.64||98.29|
|Medium Sv% (regular season)||92.12||94.44|
|High Sv% (regular season)||87.84||86.70|
|Adjusted Sv% (regular season)||93.95||94.58|
*all data is for 5v5 and is drawn from War-On-Ice here.
During 5-on-5 play, Hammond and Price have each carried over their regular season play to the postseason. Each has surrendered one “low-danger” goal and both netminders have save percentages that mirror their regular season results.
The same is true of medium-danger shots. The Senators have one MD goal on Price, the Canadiens have scored one such goal on Hammond. Again, both goaltenders are in the general vicinity of their regular season statistics.
A major factor in the series’ early-going is the difference in Price and Hammond’s work facing high-danger shots.
During the regular season, Hammond held the NHL’s best high-danger save percentage at 87.84 percent. Price trailed Hammond closely, sporting an 86.70 HD save percentage during the regular season. Through two games, it’s the difference in HD shots that is affecting the series the most.
At 5-on-5 play, Price has faced six HD shots, like the beautiful toe save on Mika Zibanejad on Friday night. He’s allowed zero goals on these shots. The lack of HD shots shows Ottawa’s inability to generate dangerous offensive chances. With only three in-close opportunities per game, the Senators cannot muster the goals they need to keep pace with the Canadiens. When the Sens have generated a prime scoring opportunity, Price has been literally unbeatable.
— LiveWire (@907LiveWire) April 16, 2015
Conversely, during 5-on-5 play, Hammond has already faced 12 HD shots, stopping nine. For Hammond, allowing 25 percent of HD shots to score is a departure from his regular season work. During his hot streak to end the regular season, Hammond stopped nearly 88 percent of shot attempts from the high-danger slot area. Through a couple of playoff games, the Canadiens have managed to convert attempts from in-close with some regularity.
The blame doesn’t fall solely on Hammond here, though. Surrendering 12 even-strength HD shots is far too many through two games. If the Sens wish to climb back into this series, they will need to do a better job of clearing rebounds and preventing in-close shot attempts by the Habs.
Finally, Price has maintained an adjusted save percentage of almost 96 percent, just a touch better than his regular season mark of about 95 percent. In contrast, Hammond’s mark has fallen from about 94 percent in the regular season to under 90 percent in this series. Hamburglar will need to block a couple of saves to boost his percentages and keep Ottawa even with Montreal in tight games.
Hammond vs. The Field
Despite Andrew Hammond’s mediocre start to the playoffs, he still hasn’t been the worst goalie so far in the postseason:
Original chart from War-On-Ice can be found here.
As per the adjusted save percentage chart, Hammond has been peppered with shots – fifth-most per 60 so far. Despite the onslaught, Hammond has still managed to outperform Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford and has performed at a level similar to Frederik Andersen and Jaroslav Halak.
Sure, Hammond has yet to make a clutch save or steal a victory so far for the Sens. But, even as he’s struggled in his first taste of the NHL playoffs, he’s provided an average performance.
With tighter defensive zone, net front coverage by his teammates, and with a key save in close here or there in Games 3 and 4 in Ottawa, Hammond and the Sens still may put up a fight in this series.
Solving Carey Price, though? That’s a different problem altogether.
What do you think, Sens fans? Are you disappointed with the play of Andrew Hammond so far? Or, has the Senators’ defensive play let Hammond down?