Today’s Feature Friday is uh … let me check my notes here … * shuffles through paper * … ah, yes. It’s some guy named uh … Cam … Ward? Does that name ring a bell to anyone? <insert sarcasm here> I would think that after the year that Ward had last year, setting career-bests (in the NHL) in games played and save percentage (74 GP and .923 SV%, respectively) as well as having the honor of starting the 2011 NHL All-Star game in front of his home crowd, the bar is certainly high for Ward coming into this season. He participated in the first ever fastest goalie competition, beating out Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. Granted, Thomas fell behind the net, but we’ll just pretend that didn’t happen. Not only has he said that he has felt pretty good after off-season training, but the Carolina Hurricanes helped Ward out in the off-season by getting veteran goaltender Brian Boucher to back-up Ward to give him a little more rest during the year – something that he got very little of last season. Cam also apparently loves fantasy baseball and football, which, according to Adam Gold and Joe Ovies, is important enough to bring up when they talked to Hurricanes’ captain Eric Staal on Thursday.
On top of starting for the All-Star team, Ward’s list of accomplishments are rather amazing for a goalie who has played only six seasons in the NHL. He won the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP (in his rookie year) as the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in the 2005-2006 season. He has also represented his country on the international stage twice in 2007 and 2008, winning a gold medal in the 2007 World Championships and a silver medal in the 2008 World Championships. He, as well as several Caniacs, hope that he can add to his already impressive resume this season.
In order for the Hurricanes to go back to the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, expect Cam Ward to lead the charge. With the expected rest that he’s supposed to receive this year with only playing around 60-65 games, this will hopefully improve his quality of starts within those games, instead of being spread out to 70-75 games like he did last year. As I mentioned in our season preview here, don’t expect the Hurricanes to make the playoffs if Ward has an off year. It’s a lot of pressure, but like many fans of his have seen in the past, when the pressure is increased, so is his play.
Now, some of several awesome saves by Cam. Enjoy.
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