Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward looked fantastic against the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night, with a 2-1 win in the ‘Canes final preseason game. I was really amazed at how on-point he looked, even here before the start of the regular season. Ward played as if he were in deep mid-season form.
I wrote yesterday that his play is one of the positives that can be taken from the Hurricanes’ preseason. (Click to read “Carolina Hurricanes Preseason Positives“) I believe that IF Ward can stay healthy, and IF can carry his game throughout the regular season at the level he seems to be at right now, he will have a superb season for this team.
I talked with Ward after the game last night and asked him how it was that he looked so focused and so ready. Ward said,
“You know it’s about fine-tuning things and being prepared. You’re facing against a very good team in Pittsburgh so you’ve got to be on your toes and you’ve got to be ready.”
Ward added that the previous game in Pittsburgh was not so good and that they turned that around and had a much better outcome.
Last season Carolina Hurricanes rookie head coach Bill Peters said he was looking for who would be the stud in-goal, Ward or Anton Khudobin. It was Ward. He retained his spot as the starting goalie for the ‘Canes and after the season Khudobin was traded.
Not because of anything inherently wrong with him as a goalie. He played well at times, not so well at others. Unfortunately it seemed that when Khudobin played his best, he got little offensive production from his teammates and as a result, he just looked bad for a lot of the season.
But, that is old news. Currently the goaltender situation is a bit similar to last year’s in that the Hurricanes have two serviceable goalies in Ward and Eddie Lack. However this time there is no uncertainty in Peters’ mind as to who will start. It’s Ward, period. Peters said after Friday night’s win over the Penguins,
“I’ll tell you right now, we play on the eighth and it’ll be Wardo, and we’ll just go from there.”
Peters is confident in Ward and is willing to give him the first shot out of the gate at cementing his position as the starting goaltender. I agree completely.
Peters also said, “Wardo to me since I’ve been here has been very, very good.”
Peters went on to add that Eddie Lack has been very good also since coming to the Hurricanes. Peters said,
“I think he’s really going to give us good goaltending. We had good goaltending here again tonight. To me, that’s going to be the strength of our team. It’s going to be a very competitive environment.”
So the ‘Canes are in the position of having two goaltenders that they can potentially rely on to play well throughout the season. Not unlike last season, however, the onus will be on the offense to support that good goalie play. If they don’t, neither Ward nor Lack will be able to carry this team on their own.
Ward said it best after the game, “It’s a good way to end the preseason. I felt real comfortable in the net. I settled into the game, and the guys did a great job in front of me.” The ‘Canes face a strong Nashville Predators team on Wednesday which will be a strong test. For the fans there is a strong hope that Ward and the guys will keep doing a great job.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.