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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

The Goaltending Picture

Tuesday, 11.19.2013 / 6:00 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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The Goaltending Picture
The Carolina Hurricanes have three healthy goaltenders on the horizon. What to do then? There are a few options.
In the opening weeks of the 2013-14 regular season, the Carolina Hurricanes utilized their goaltending duo of Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin in rotation.

Michael Smith
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Five games into the season, Khudobin went down with an ankle injury, and Justin Peters was recalled from Charlotte. Five games after that, Ward went down with a groin injury, and Mike Murphy was recalled from Charlotte.

In three short weeks, the Canes’ goaltending picture was erased, the easel wiped clean.

Peters subsequently started 10 games in a row, going 4-1-1 in the latter part of that block of games and setting a career high for consecutive games started without a regulation loss (five).

The Canes’ goaltending picture was being redrawn. Peters, 27 and a veteran who has seen varying time with the Canes over five seasons, had proven his worth at the NHL level, turning away 166 of his last 175 shots faced (.949 save percentage).

“This is the best stretch of games that Justin has played in his pro career. He was a difference-maker. He got us some points in a bunch of those games,” Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford said. “I can see his development improving all the time, even more so this year when you look at some of the things he does now. He’s had a very impressive run.”

Now Ward is once again healthy. Khudobin, who’s had a bit more of a prolonged rehab due to the nature of his injury, is practicing with the Canes again; it was a week before Ward returned to game action after rejoining the team at practice.

“First, Khudobin has to get healthy to be in the picture,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “So right now we’re just dealing with two healthy guys (Ward and Peters), and we’ll go with really who’s the guy that’s going to best give us the chance to win every night.”

Like Ward, who admitted he was pushing to get back into the lineup as early as last week, Khudobin will have to be 100 percent before he gets consideration to play in goal.

“We can’t use these games to get fine-tuned. It’s not exhibition anymore,” Muller said. “We’ve got to win hockey games. So if you step in, you have to step in with the mindset that you can win the hockey game.”

Assuming the Canes wind up with three healthy goaltenders in a week or so, then what?

Carolina has a few options.

The first would have been the most likely a few weeks ago -- reassigning Peters to Charlotte where he will continue to see regular starts and provide the Checkers with much-needed goaltending help.

But since he has played in 11 games, even on emergency recall, he will need to first clear waivers, as designated by the new collective bargaining agreement signed by the NHL and NHLPA earlier this year.

Considering the way Peters played in November and the number of teams currently experiencing goaltending issues due to injuries or otherwise, he might not clear, and the Canes would lose an NHL-capable goaltender who they have groomed since selecting him in the second round of the 2004 NHL Draft with no return.

Another option, then, is to explore trade options. Of course, this sacrifices depth in one position with the goal of bolstering another, but it could be a viable way to salvage a return in an otherwise difficult situation.

A third option is to keep three goaltenders on the roster, but that’s not exactly ideal considering it would limit available depth at forward and defense. Peters, however, is on a one-way contract, so he will earn the same amount of money whether he’s in the NHL or the AHL.

“Justin did a great job and showed that he can play at this level, and so can the other two,” Muller said. “We’ve got a nice, healthy problem right now.

“If we do get three guys, we will have to make a decision.”

A difficult one, at that.

“We’re going to have a tough decision to make. We don’t have to make it yet, but we’re aware of it,” Rutherford said. “We’ve got everybody weighing in on it, and we’ll make the decision at the time when we have to.”



SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 62 27 22 13 150 175 67
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 61 26 31 4 157 191 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 62 25 32 5 170 189 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 61 12 28 -16 40
E. Staal 56 18 19 -10 37
E. Lindholm 60 11 16 -16 27
J. Skinner 56 16 10 -16 26
R. Nash 58 7 15 -9 22
N. Gerbe 57 7 15 -11 22
V. Rask 59 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 61 6 12 3 18
J. Staal 25 4 12 -2 16
A. Nestrasil 33 4 10 4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 19 4 .913 2.37
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60