The Carolina Hurricanes finally received some good news yesterday. Cam Ward began skating again in practice, but without any goalie gear on. The star goaltender has been out since March 3 and has been the Hurricanes’ biggest injury this season that has featured injuries to Tuomu Ruutu, Justin Faulk and Joni Pitkanen.
Ward injured his knee in a game against the Florida Panthers when Faulk slid into him after defending Florida’s Jack Skille . Ward stayed on the ice after the collision but the injury became too much when he stretched to make a save on the next play.
Since that time, Carolina has fallen far in the Eastern Conference standings. GM Jim Rutherford chose to not acquire another goalie and instead used Dan Ellis and Justin Peters to share the workload in net.
The move has not paid off as the Hurricanes currently sit in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and have lost almost all hopes of a playoff berth. Since Ward’s injury the team has sported a 4-13-1 record allowing four goals or more 12 times during that span.
It is obvious that Carolina needs Ward back in net, but if the eight-year veteran is not ready to play by the beginning of next week, it may be smarter for the Canes to not play Ward at all this season and continue to let his knee heal. By next week, the Hurricanes may be too far out of the playoffs to contend at all.
The Hurricanes received even more bad news on Tuesday as coach Kirk Muller announced that Ellis was not going to start the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins because of an injury. Muller had announced earlier in the day that Ellis would be in net against the Penguins. Ellis also missed three games at the end of March also because of injury. Muller did not disclose what type of injury Ellis has so a timetable for his return is not known.
With Ellis injured, Peters would be the starting goalie, which did not work well for the Canes during Ellis’ earlier injury. The Canadian goaltender received criticism after allowing four goals against the Winnipeg Jets and six against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, Peters earned a win in his third game in a row against the Jets, which is also the Hurricanes last win on March 30.