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Ward Ready for Nashville

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 2:31 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Ward Ready for Nashville

After missing the beginning of training camp with upper body stiffness, Cam Ward has been back on the ice for a couple of days participating in full practices with the team.

Michael Smith
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For Ward, that’s what he wanted all along. But he and the coaching staff knew they needed to be careful, even if the injury was “nothing serious,” as Ward mentioned. Like head coach Paul Maurice said on day one, there’s one time Ward isn’t needed all season, and that is at the beginning of camp.

“I felt great all summer long, and then suddenly I aggravate an injury before camp,” Ward said. “I think we took a very cautious route. I was very itchy to participate in camp. We’ve had a couple good practices here, and I feel really comfortable, so hopefully that carries into the game tomorrow.”

Ward is slated to start in tomorrow night’s preseason matchup with Nashville, his first taste of a game situation since April 9.

“He wants to get in there,” Maurice said. “I don’t know if we’ll leave him in for the whole 60, but he’ll get some work.”

“It’s going to be nice to get back into the swing of things and get that game experience again,” Ward said. “It’s going to probably be a little different, just because I haven’t played in awhile. But that’s what exhibition games are for – to fine tune things and get yourself prepared.”

Last season, Ward started in 74 of the team’s 82 games, getting only eight games of rest all season. Ideally, the coaching staff would like to sit Ward in about 20 games this season, letting veteran Brian Boucher take some of the workload off of the young goalie.

Boucher signed a two-year deal with the Canes on the first day of free agency. In signing an experienced backup goaltender, the Canes shouldn’t have to rely on Ward as much as they have in seasons past. In Philadelphia last season, Boucher played in 34 regular-season games and nine playoff tilts. He won 18 games in the regular season and four in the playoffs.

 “There’s no question that Boucher is a veteran guy that can come in at any time and win your team a hockey game, and that’s what you need,” Ward said. “I like the workload, and there’s not a game that you don’t want to be a part of. But at the same time, you need some rest to be at the best of your abilities through the duration of the season.”

In addition to the help Boucher can bring to the team, the defensive depth the Canes have built up won’t hurt, either.

“We’ve got guys with youth and some with experience. You’ve got some shutdown guys, and you’ve got some defensive guys,” he said. “I think it’s a good mix of a defenseman that’s going to be tough to play against, and I’m glad they’re in front of me.”

A familiar group of defensemen will be in front of Ward tomorrow night, with a couple of young faces mixed in. In any case, Ward is going to come prepared with the goal of getting a win.

“He’s not trying out, but he’s a competitive man,” Maurice said. “He always wants to play his best – exhibition, scrimmaging with the guys – and he always takes it personally. He’s ready.”

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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