If the Ottawa Senators are truly going to climb back into the NHL Eastern playoff chase, they’re going to need a sequel to the Hamburglar story from 2015.
That was the year Andrew Hammond arrived on the Ottawa scene, armed with zero career NHL victories. Hammond played out of his mind, backstopping the Senators to an improbable playoff berth and posting a ridiculous indivdual record of 20-1-2.
With Anton Forsberg out for the season, and Cam Talbot gone for the next three weeks, Danish rookie goalie Mads Sogaard will now be asked to reprise Hammond’s role in Hamburglar II: Rise of the Great Dane. One can already picture the movie trailer, with teammate Parker Kelly eating one of the post-game danish pastries that fans have thrown onto the ice instead of cheeseburgers.
Sogaard stumbled in his opening scene, a 5-0 loss Monday in Chicago. But he also began the day as merely the understudy. Not only was he thrust in at the last moment, his surrounding cast didn’t help him at all.
As of now, ready or not, Sogaard is Ottawa’s leading man for the rest of March.
“It sucks to hear what’s happened to Cam,” Sogaard said. “He’s a huge part of this hockey team and a guy that I lean on a lot. To not have him is definitely a hit for the group for sure.
“I’m just going to do my best to help the team win, to help put them in a situation to win hockey games. That’s all we can do as goaltenders. Just focus on the small details every day and make sure I’m as prepared as possible. When I do that, I can go out there and play freely and just have fun.”
Sogaard just turned 22 last month and has nine career NHL starts. To put his situation into perspective, the NHL doesn’t have a single starting goalie under the age of 24. But that’s not all that makes Sogaard unique. He’s 6-foot-7 and the tallest goalie in NHL history, tied with former Senator Ben Bishop and Mikko Koskinen, who’s now in the Swiss league, probably enjoying the danishes there.
For the Sens to have any playoff hopes at all, they’re going to have to do a far better job of insulating their rookie goalie than they did in Monday night’s Windy City blowout. And no one was more upset about it than captain Brady Tkachuk.
Brady Tkachuk tried to go after the Hawks goalie, Alex Stalock 👀 pic.twitter.com/du4fiOcEsR
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 7, 2023
“I told (Sogaard) throughout the game that none of this is your fault,” Tkachuk said after the loss. “Like, we just completely screwed you… It’s honesty unacceptable that we just leave him out to dry like that.
“I think we were just cheating everywhere. We were just looking for offence, looking for points.
“We’ll never win with that mindset.”
Even if the Sens get do back on the same page, it’s still going to be a long, pressure-filled, Western road trip to help keep their playoff hopes alive, so a happy ending to this Hamburglar sequel remains a long shot.
But at 6-foot-7, Sogaard specializes in tall orders.
By Steve Warne