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Ottawa Senators Marcus Hogberg’s Goaltending Isn’t Defined By His Record

Marcus Hogberg’s had a tough season. However, his play has been stronger than his record suggests. What’s been his progression throughout the season?

On Saturday night, the Ottawa Senators ended the Calgary Flames’ six-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory. That win allowed the Vancouver Canucks to wind up in first place in the Pacific Division as the teams head off to the All-Star break.

Hogberg was really strong in this game and made 40 saves for the win. The Senators, who had gone nine games without winning, were outshot 42-21 (exactly twice as many shots). Only Hogberg’s great goaltending pushed them to victory. It was only Hogberg’s second win in 13 starts.

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For his record, it isn’t as if he hasn’t played well. Senators head coach D.J. Smith put it simply, “He’s got points in four straight (games). He gave us every chance to win those other three games and he was really good again. It’s good for our team and our organization to have a young guy that’s playing at this level.”

In this post, I want to trace this 25-year-old goalie’s record to show how he’s progressed during the season.

Hogberg’s Season Game by Game

On November 30, the Senators’ 2013 third-round pick got his first start of the season and the fifth of his career when Craig Anderson was sidelined by injury and because Anders Nilsson played the previous night. Hogberg made 24 saves for Ottawa in his first start of the season but lost that game 3-1 to the Calgary Flames. However, in a recurring theme this season, his record didn’t demonstrate the level of his play.

Senators’ defenseman Thomas Chabot noted that Hogberg, “played real solid the whole way made some big saves … We were lucky to have him. He was ready for it, ready for the challenge, and he played real well.”

On December 3, Hogberg relieved Nilsson who lasted only one period and allowed four goals on 15 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Canucks. Hogberg made 13 saves but, by the time he entered the game, the Canucks had already scored enough to win. Still, Hogberg played well and had allowed only three goals on 40 shots this NHL season.

When Anderson returned to play against the Edmonton Oilers, Hogberg was reassigned to Belleville where, as the AHL team’s starter, he’s had a 6-6-0 record with a goals-against-average of 3.21 and .892 save percentage in 14 games. But Anderson left a game against the Philadelphia Flyers and was placed on the IR, and Hogberg was quickly recalled. At that point in the season, he’d played two games and had a.925 save percentage with a goals-against-average of 1.82.

On December 17, Hogberg got the difficult task of starting a road start against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He gave up four goals on 40 shots and lost 4-3 in overtime. It was a strong game, but he still hadn’t gained his first NHL victory. His record sat at 0-1-1 with a goals-against-average 2.57 and .913 save percentage in three 2019-20 games.

On December 19, Hogberg started a home game against the Nashville Predators. Nilsson was supposed to start but had fallen ill. Again, Hogberg played well and this time successfully won his first game 5-4 in overtime. It had taken eight attempts to gain that victory, but again it wasn’t because he’d played poorly. Instead, the Senators are rebuilding team that’s played up-and-down all season. They have a tough time winning.

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On December 21, Hogberg got another start against the Philadelphia Flyers. Coming off his first NHL win, the unlucky goalie made 34 saves but lost 5-4 in a shootout. He’d shown talent but his youth and the fact that the Senators can’t put up enough talent in front of him to cover his errors makes winning tough.

Against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 30, he faced a red-hot Penguins team that had won six of seven games and had scored at four goals in five of those games. In that game, Evgeni Malkin scored 27 seconds in and Hogberg played one of his poorer games of the season, giving up five goals on 33 shots as the team lost 5-2.

Then Hogberg’s play started to improve. On January 7, he replaced Anderson early in the third period and stopped 10 of 11 shots. Although the team lost 6-1 to the powerful Washington Capitals, coach Smith began to see Hogberg as at least giving the Senators a chance to win and gave Hogberg more opportunities to prove he belonged in the NHL.

On January 10, he started against the Detroit Red Wings and stopped 26 of 28 shots but lost in a shootout. Hogberg made some great saves to keep the Senators in the game, but Dylan Larkin beat him in the shootout. Surprisingly, he was given the start the next night in a back-to-back against the Montreal Canadiens. He made 23 saves but lost 2-1 in overtime. Again he played well and helped his team take another point by helping them get into the overtime period.

On January 14, Hogberg lost another overtime heartbreaker to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 when he saved 27 of 3o shots. Still, Hogberg had only a single win, but he was helping his team gain points.

Hogberg’s Second Victory

On January 16, Anderson started his first game since January 7 making 39 saves in a 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. That extended the Senators losing streak to nine games (0-5-4). It’s tough for a goalie to win when your team only scores 19 goals in nine games, but that’s the Senators.

And, coach Smith noted that “It’s not ideal when you’re dealing with young kids and confidence.” Adding that, “As long as we keep getting better, I think the biggest thing is we got healthy on the back end and I think we’ll turn the corner there.”

It looked tough facing the Flames before the All-Star break, but Hogberg was given that start. And, what a game he played, making 40 saves in a rare 5-2 win. Calgary was all over the Senators, but Hogberg played the game of his NHL career – so far – even keeping them shutout until the 14:09 mark of the third period. He was the difference-maker.

What’s Hogberg’s Potential?

Right now, Hogberg stands with a 1-0-3 record in his last four games. That might not seem great, but he’s helped his team get points in four straight games. In the middle of a five-game losing streak, he’d only lost once in regulation. His win against the Flames stopped them in their tracks and halted their momentum going into the All-Star break.

Where this leaves Hogberg, no one knows. He hasn’t got a great win-loss record, but who could with the Senators being a rebuilding team? But, he’s proven he can hold his own at the NHL level. That’s a start.

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