Cam Ward is up to his old tricks.
The 33 year old has won his last three starts including a 27 save shutout over the Montreal Canadiens. Ward has 15 of Carolina’s 24 wins and to this date has been the better goaltender than new comer Scott Darling.
However, he is not the answer.
Ward is currently Bill Peters’ “hot hand” in goal and rightfully so. But, to bank on a 33 year old who has been inconsistent at best since 2006 to carry a team into the post season isn’t ideal. The Hurricanes are going to need Scott Darling eventually, and they’re going to need him sooner rather than later.
Caniacs remember last season when Cam Ward posted a .935 save percentage in November and was carrying a team through December and into the new year without having a reliable backup behind him. Caniacs saw the Cam Ward of old but lest we forget how that ended.
Ward fizzled out, badly at that. His save percentage dropped from .917 in December to .883 in January. Ward went 6-6 in that month, allowing 38 goals.
Right now Ward is doing admirably as a veteran backup giving his team good minutes in goal but, if the Hurricanes want to snap this playoff drought they’re going to need Darling to snap out of his funk.
The Hurricanes franchise isn’t ready to “stick a fork” in Darling and rightfully so because they know if they were to do that they would ultimately be setting this team up to be led by Cam Ward and look at where that has gotten them in recent seasons. The Hurricanes are tantalizingly close to a wild card spot, tied with the Flyers with 56 points not to mention they will be jockeying with the Rangers and Islanders who sit behind them with 55 points. It will come down to goaltending and right now Cam Ward is getting the Canes points which is good but, its early February and as Ward’s track record has shown a drop off is expected.
However, if right now Cam Ward is “the guy” than so be it, he’s played well in his last two starts and the Hurricanes need all the points they can get. But, for Bill Peters and company getting Darling starts to get him in a groove is crucial and if they fail, the hot hand will burn them and badly.