27 shots, 5 goals against, .815 save percentage.
Cam Ward’s stat line in the loss to the Colorado Avalanche (a team who finished dead last a season ago) should have instantly quelled any rumbling of a “goaltending controversy” in Carolina. The fact that this take was even mentioned a few weeks ago by someone whom will not be named is simply crazy. Ron Francis did not trade and sign Scott Darling to ride the bench, Darling was brought here to address a glaring need, quality goaltending.
Darling has started 8 games and has amassed a 3-3-2 record with a decent 2.70 goals against average and an .897 save percentage, no where close to league average. However, we are roughly a month into the season with 71 games left, there is no need for panic, there is no need for a change in goal.
Caniacs need to put things into perspective. The Hurricanes could be the Coyotes, who’ve used 4 different goaltenders already and just have a measly 5 points on the year. The Hurricanes could be the Golden Knights who are only 12 games in and yet have used 4 different goaltenders already. The Hurricanes are stable in net with a healthy 28 year old who has post strong numbers in past seasons.
I wrote an article before the season had started about the growing pains backup goalies go through before transitioning to starters. This is what is being seen with Darling. Playing night in and night out changes the perspective from playing in around 20-25 games a year. For example, Frederick Andersen last season posted an .896 save percentage in the month of October with the Leafs. Going from 37 games started with the Ducks in 2015-16 to a career high 66 games with the Leafs the following year he finished the season with a .918 save percentage and led the Leafs to a playoff birth. It is also worth to note that a change of scenery can also affect a players performance for better or worse. Going from Midwestern Chicago, a city Darling is familiar with, to Raleigh is a culture change. The point is there are adjustments on and off the ice that need to be accounted for in terms of a player’s performance.
Going to Cam Ward is not the answer, if anything it’d be the worst thing the Hurricanes could do right now. Last night the Canes needed timely stops and Ward simply couldn’t deliver instead getting toasted in the second period by one of last years worst offensive teams. Three goals on 60 shots should result in a win but Cam Ward simply did not hold up his end of the deal. Last night’s loss was arguably the most frustrating but it did show why the Hurricanes need Darling.
There is no controversy, there won’t be a controversy. Cam Ward is the backup, Scott Darling is the starter. That is that. For those who still want to peddle the narrative, Darling had a .900 save percentage during the month of October last season, in November his save percentage elevated to .915. In 2015-16 his October save percentage was .880, in November it was .938.