SPORTS

Senators' Murray says 'Hamburglar' reminds him of Vanbiesbrouck and Giguere

03/18/2015 04:12 EDT | Updated 05/18/2015 05:59 EDT
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Andrew Hammond is doing something no goaltender has done in the NHL since the 1930s. Still, Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray has seen a couple of goalies on streaks similar to the brilliant run the "Hamburglar" is on: John Vanbiesbrouck and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Vanbiesbrouck carried the Florida Panthers to the Stanley Cup final in 1996, and Giguere got the Anaheim Mighty Ducks one victory from the Cup in 2003.

"They got on a roll and nobody could beat them," said Murray, who was the GM of those teams.

Hammond is on one heck of a roll right now. He has an 11-0-1 record with a 1.35 goals-against average and .956 save percentage as the Senators have improbably joined the playoff race. He's the first goalie to allow two or fewer goals in first 12 starts since Frank Brimsek in 1938-39.

Vanbiesbrouck had a 2.25 GAA and .932 save percentage in his run, and Giguere had a 1.62 GAA and .945 save percentage in his, which ended with the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.

The play of Erik Karlsson, among others, has improved, but the 27-year-old Hammond is the big reason the Senators can even think playoffs. They host the Boston Bruins, who they're chasing, Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre.

If Hammond keeps this up, people might fondly recall this stretch like Murray does Vanbiesbrouck and Giguere.

"I remember Vanbiesbrouck, we would go into Pittsburgh for Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals and they had Ronny Francis and Mario Lemieux and (Jaromir) Jagr — all the big stars — and he wouldn't let anything in," Murray said Wednesday at the NHL general managers meeting. "In Anaheim when J-S played, we went into Detroit, they got 50-some shots the first night, 40-some the second night and we win both games and we win four straight. It was only because of goaltending."

Playoffs are a different animal than even late in the regular season. Still, Hammond is giving Ottawa a chance every time he's in net.

"We all know this: That if you have a great goaltender, you can have a pretty good hockey team if the guys just play regularly," Murray said.

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Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the wrong stats listed for Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

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