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Boucher Practices with Team

Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 1:35 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
As Cam Ward's situation continues to be clouded in uncertainty, the Carolina Hurricanes received good news on the goaltending front when Brian Boucher returned to practice on Wednesday.

It was the first team practice for the 35-year-old Woonsocket, Rhode Island native since suffering a lower-body injury in practice on Dec. 5.

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Even though he’s still a ways off from getting back into game-shape – head coach Kirk Muller estimated 10 days, at least – Wednesday marked an important step in his recovery process.

“It feels good to be back out there, face some shots and just be with your teammates,” he said. “It’s been a lonely two-and-a-half months working by myself, so it’s nice to get back out there.”

For the two weeks immediately following his injury, Boucher was completely shut down, as he received platelet-rich plasma therapy, commonly known as PRP.

According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, this treatment involves taking a patient’s own blood, spinning it in a machine until it contains a mix of plasma cells and growth factors and then injecting it into the injured area. This then stimulates the body’s instincts to repair the injured area. Essentially, it expedites what is a natural process.

Following that two weeks of “literally doing nothing,” Boucher began light workouts.

“I started to do leg workouts, as little as just walking on the treadmill with a little bit of an incline,” he said. “That progressed to running and eventually to riding the bike and doing everything. Once you master all the things in the weight room, then your next step is on the ice.”

Boucher began skating on his own after the All-Star break. Participating in team practices, as he did today, is a different animal.

“When I was on the ice with Tommy, we’re doing stuff in controlled settings,” he said. “It’s a drill that’s set beforehand. I know what I’m going to do, I know the movement I’m going to make, I know the save I’m going to make. When you get into practices, there’s some uncertainty – 2-on-1s, it could hit a skate, go the other way and you have to react and make a save accordingly. That puts stresses on you that you haven’t had.”

Concussions have plagued the Canes’ locker room this season. Jeff Skinner, Joni Pitkanen and Jay Harrison have all missed time with them and all varied in how much time they missed; that’s the nature of concussions, in that they affect each person differently.

Boucher’s recovery, on the other hand, was mapped out meticulously.

“I’ve never had a concussion. I can’t imagine it being day-to-day where you’re waiting to see how you wake up to determine what the next step is,” Boucher said. “In my case, they knew it was going to be close to three months, and you just kind of progress slowly and try not to have any setbacks.”

While Mike Murphy was called up for the balance of the Canes’ Canadian road swing on which Boucher was injured, Justin Peters has handled the brunt of the back-up duties. In Peters’ last two starts, he’s made 52 saves on 54 shots, earned a shutout and won two in a row. Ward, before going down with a minor lower-body injury, was playing his best hockey of the season.

“Cam has done a great job. It’s not easy to play every night,” Boucher said. “His play is really what’s started to turn things around.

“Justin’s done a great job stepping in for Cam, and you need that often times in organizations. If you’re going to have success, you need organizational depth at all positions.”

In other goaltender news, Ward did not practice today. Muller is confident the injury isn’t serious, but stressed caution.

“We’ll judge Cam tomorrow and see if he’s ready,” he said. “We’re not going to use Cam until he’s ready to go and 100 percent healthy. With Peters playing the way he is, we’re certainly confident to be able to use him if we have to tomorrow.”

It’s a good problem to have when you’re deciding between two capable and confident goaltenders and have a proven veteran on the verge of returning, as well.





1 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
2 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
3 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
4 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
5 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
6 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
7 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
8 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79


E. Staal 79 21 40 -13 61
J. Skinner 71 33 21 -14 54
A. Sekera 74 11 33 4 44
A. Semin 65 22 20 1 42
J. Staal 82 15 25 2 40
J. Faulk 76 5 27 -9 32
N. Gerbe 81 16 15 -6 31
J. Tlusty 68 16 14 2 30
R. Nash 73 10 14 0 24
P. Dwyer 75 8 14 -2 22
A. Khudobin 19 14 1 .926 2.30
C. Ward 10 12 6 .898 3.06