Bad Seeds Pack Playoff Punch With Hot Goalies
Anything can happen once you get into the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s not uncommon to see teams squeak into the postseason and do some damage in the early rounds; a hot goaltender can make all the difference in a seven-game series. Hot goaltenders like Andrew Hammond of the Ottawa Senators, and Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets. Thanks to their late-season heroics, the Senators and the Jets have earned Wild Card spots in their respective conferences. Will they make the next step and carry their teams through the first round?
It won’t be easy. The No. 8 Jets have the lowest Stanley Cup odds (25/1) of anyone on the futures market as we go to press. They’re matched up against the No. 1 Anaheim Ducks (8/1) in the West, and meanwhile the No. 7 Senators (16/1) have a date with the No. 2 Montreal Canadiens (9/1) in the East. But if the two goalies in question keep doing what they’re doing, they can beat just about anybody.
Winnipeg’s chances in particular look much better than the NHL odds would suggest. The Ducks (51-24-2-5, minus-29.57 units ATS) were the second worst team in the league against the puck line, with a record of 33-1-7 in games decided by a single goal. Anaheim’s average margin of victory this year was just 0.09 goals, worse than the Los Angeles Kings (0.26) and the Boston Bruins (0.10), both of whom missed the playoffs.
As for the Jets (43-26-7-6, plus-18.56 units ATS), they were more profitable than any other team in the league, and Pavelec (.920 save percentage, 9.0 Goalie Point Shares) didn’t give up a goal in three straight games – shootouts not included – to end the regular season. Winnipeg, by the way, had an average winning margin of 0.23 goals this year.
Over in the East, there’s nobody hotter between the pipes than rookie Andrew Hammond (.941 SV%, 6.5 GPS in 24 games), who has a personal record of 20-1-2 for the Senators (43-26-7-6, plus-16.70 units ATS) since getting called up from the minors in mid-February. Hammond’s excellent play has people talking about him in the same breath as Ken Dryden, who led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1971 with just six regular-season games under his belt.
It’s fitting that Hammond and the Sens will face the latest in a long line of quality goaltenders in Montreal. Carey Price (.933 SV%, 16.2 GPS) put up the best numbers of any goalie in the NHL this year, at least for a full season, and is considered the front-runner to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP. The Canadiens (50-22-5-5, plus-8.68 units ATS) had an average winning margin of 0.37 goals, so they represent a much tougher opponent than Anaheim, but again, with a netminder as hot as Hammond is right now, anything can happen. Game 1 of their series takes place Wednesday (7:00 PM ET, NHLN) in Montreal, and the Jets-Ducks series gets underway Thursday (10:30 PM ET, CNBC) in Anaheim.