The rookie saves the day
If you thought Ward was just gonna have the best seat in the house while Carolina went through the playoffs, you were so horribly mistaken. Cam was thrown into the fire when the going got tough, and what happened was, what I can only describe as miraculous.
After game 1 in the Montreal series, Gerber had not performed to expectation. In Game two, Carolina found themselves down 5-0, so Gerber came out and the rookie went in. Ridding the momentum of the human highlight reel Cam Ward had become, the Canes got themselves back into the game.
Carolina would lose game 2, but they won the next 4 straight. They whipped the Habs out in 6, moved on to the second round, and beat New Jersey in 5. Ward would also see the team past the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Finals, and past the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup finals. Both series would go the distance, to see Carolina on the winning side.
Ward would put up 15 wins in 23 games. He recorded a .920 save percentage and a 2.14 goals-against average. Considering what he had done in the regular season, this was nothing short of a miracle. 2 shutouts in the playoffs to, just to cement his solid performance. He had completely turned around his short time in the NHL, and he had become an incredibly hot commodity.
Not only had Ward become a Stanley Cup champion, but he had also won the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He had become the first rookie goalie to do it in 50 years. It’s an incredibly rare feat and Ward had done it. He’d saved the day when Carolina needed him to. It could only be up from here for the Conn Smythe winner.