Tracking the Storm

Ward Returns to Practice; To Play Next Week

Thursday, 12.3.2009 / 1:50 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Ward Returns to Practice; To Play Next Week
Although the Hurricanes still haven’t been able to field a full team of 20 skaters in practice this week, they had more than their share of goaltenders on Thursday.

Cam Ward practiced fully with the team – at least as much as each of three goaltenders can participate fully – for the first time since suffering a severe laceration above his knee from the skate of Columbus’ Rick Nash. He had been skating prior to practice earlier this week and saw a few shots from Assistant Coach Tom Barrasso, but not to the degree that he saw Thursday.

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“You tend to forget that it’s been over three weeks since I’ve seen a shot,” said Ward. “You’d think that it would take some time to get your reaction back, but quite honestly I felt pretty comfortable out there in the net, and hopefully I can get a few more good practices in the next few days.”

“I thought he looked pretty good,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “There’s something to be said for talent, and even for a guy who’s coming off the injury and hasn’t seen pucks since November 7, he still gets in front of it. He’s technically so good and so quick that even when he’s moving on one leg he’s good.”

The Hurricanes and Ward are now targeting a return date of December 9 at New Jersey. Maurice said that the goaltender had a chance to return two days earlier at Pittsburgh, but the later game remains a safer bet.

“I’m really close,” said Ward. “I’m trying to do what I can to get myself back in the lineup. It’s not a lot of fun sitting from the sidelines and watching games, but I’ve got to be smart about my decision of when I come back and make sure that when I get back on the ice I can play to my potential. It’s not fair to the team for me to go out there and not be at 100 percent.”

Considering the severity of the injury and the fact that he was hospitalized just a few weeks ago, Ward did look surprisingly mobile in the net. Popping back up to his feet from the butterfly position, something that one would think should be quite difficult, seemed fairly effortless.

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“There aren’t too many movements in my game where I’m limited because of my knee,” he said. “I’ve got the flexibility back and there’s still a little bit of slight pain, but that should be going away in no time.”

The recent injury actually marks the second time the goaltender has been cut by a skate blade, as he also missed three games during the 2006-07 season due to a less-severe injury. The fact that something similar has already happened twice in his five NHL seasons has prompted him to begin wearing an extra pad above his knees, which many other goaltenders use.

“I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m going to start wearing some thigh/knee guards from hereon out,” he said. “I’ve got to realize that the Hurricanes organization has invested in me and I’ve got to make sure that I’m protected.”

Although it’s not clear how much the added padding would have protected him from each injury, it’s an extra measure that he’ll take despite some relative discomfort – the reason he’s never worn them in the past.

“They’re not very comfortable just because I’m not used to it, but I know that with some more time and some more practice I’ll get more and more used to it,” he said.

Of all the players who missed yesterday’s practice, only Jussi Jokinen remained sidelined. However, Maurice said after practice that he was hoping to have Jokinen, along with Chad LaRose, back for Saturday’s game. Scott Walker is also a good bet after practicing with the team all week.

Maurice added that he would also have another defenseman from Albany in time for tomorrow’s practice. Since Joe Corvo went down with a leg laceration of his own, the Hurricanes have been practicing with just five blue liners. An recall announcement should be made sometime Thursday evening.


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72