After Sunday’s impressive victory over the Winnipeg Jets, the Carolina Hurricanes have settled into a nice four-game winning streak. It is a wonderful rebound for a team that started the season off slows losing its first three games on the road. What makes this collection of wins even more impressive is the opponents that the Hurricanes had to beat to win those games, as Winnipeg, Montreal, San Jose, and Washington are all near the top of their divisions.
The most interesting aspect of this particular run for the Hurricanes is that the key factor for these wins is coming from a part of their game that struggled early on: their goaltending. Cam Ward has been nothing short of outstanding during this four-game stretch, never allowing more than two goals in that time span.
An Unsteady Start
To many, the re-signing of Cam Ward in the off-season came as a major shock. His career numbers, such as save percentage and goals-against average, had been diminishing for the past few seasons, and it was speculated that given the plethora of competent goaltending options on the marketing, Cam Ward would be on his way out of Raleigh.
Despite this Ward would then re-sign with the Hurricanes for two years, agreeing to a contract worth $6.6 million, with a modified no-trade clause of 15 teams.
Shortly after the signing general manager Ron Francis would go on to say:
You go through a process, you look at free agents and who might be available when it comes to July 1, there is no guarantee guys are gonna get there, but who might be available, and then we looked at that and we thought Cam’s right there at the top of the list.
Ward started the season in October with a 1-3-1 record, and a dreadful .869 save percentage. Couple that with the fact that goaltending partner Eddie Lack had an even worse October, and it becomes plain to see exactly why Carolina plummeted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
A Solid November for Ward
It seems now though that Cam Ward has shaken off the early season rust from October and is now in full swing. Cam’s numbers have improved dramatically since October, as his November save percentage sits at .944, and his goals against average is currently at 1.59.
— Mike Sundheim (@MikeSundheim) November 21, 2016
Performances like these are more than enough for the Hurricanes to start compiling wins. Carolina’s forward group has taken full advantage of the outstanding play of Ward and rewarded him with excellent goal support, as Carolina consistently outshoots and outscores opponents. All of this hard work has resulted in the Hurricanes securing 11 of a possible 16 points this month, lifting them above the struggling New York Islanders and right on the tail of the Philadelphia Flyers
When asked about his recent performance and what he has to do going forward Cam Ward said this:
I just feel real comfortable in what we’re doing and I find that less thinking is certainly better for myself, just go out there and play and have some fun. This winning streak has been fun, but it’s important we keep our foot on the gas and keep playing well coming into the road.
With a three-game road trip through Ontario and Quebec coming up, the Canes will be looking to add to the momentum they have already created for themselves. If Ward can continue to produce the way he is currently, the Canes could quickly make up the ground that they lost in the beginning of the season.
Josh Burns is from Ontario Canada and is an avid hockey lover, and covers the Carolina Hurricanes