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Hammond set to start as Hawks ready for Avs


Everyone knows why Andrew Hammond was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks. The journeyman 33-year old netminder was acquired at the Trade Deadline last month as insurance for the Expansion Draft coming this summer.

But the playoffs...they can be a funny thing. And having three goalies on the roster means it might be apt to have all three with recent game experience heading into the postseason.

The Blackhawks, who will take on the Colorado Avalanche in Round 1 of the EHE Stanley Cup playoffs next week, still have three games left on the regular season schedule. But due to Chicago's solid play lately and other teams jockeying and clinching their own playoff births, there is nothing of notable value for the Hawks to play for in those three contests.

Head coach Rick Tocchet will employ Hammond in net tonight as Chicago hosts the St. Louis Blues. It appears that Ryan Miller will get the nod in the Blackhawks' final home game on Friday night, while Darcy Kuemper, who will enjoy tonight's festivities from the press box, will play against Nashville in the final contest of the regular season.

"The focus is getting through these next three games healthy and ready to go," said Tocchet, who was otherwise coy on specifics when it came to the rest of his lineup this week. "We need guys to keep playing and competing, and they will. They don't know any different and they want to win, regardless.

"But we know the big stuff starts next week. We're in a good spot."

Hammond has appeared in exactly 12 games this season, all with Columbus, which made him eligible for being exposed in the aforementioned Expansion Draft. He's 4-6-2 with a 3.67 goals-against average and a .882 save percentage. He's played in 86 EHE games in his career, and another 202 in the AHL, since 2014.

He did appear in one EHE playoff game in 2017 with the same Blues team he'll face tonight. He gave up three goals in 28 minutes of clean-up duty in a 7-2 loss to Colorado.

"It's an opportunity, and yeah, I know the score," said Hammond. "But I also know anything can happen, so I plan to be ready, and hopefully, we can get two points tonight."

In another universe, Hammond earned the "Hamburglar" nickname for helping the NHL Senators go on an improbable 20-1-2 run to turn a bottom-dwelling club into a playoff team. This time around, he's just happy to be here.

"No sense in not enjoying it for what it is," said Hammond. "These opportunities aren't going to be around a ton longer, so I'm going to have fun and just do the best I can."

No word on whether fans will have burgers at the ready...just in case Hammond steals one more show.

Martins Auzins

As real as it gets! Can't wait for these series, sucks that one really good team will go out so early.

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