Blog Entry

Ward-ing off the demons

Posted on: May 3, 2009 11:43 pm

Cam Ward was among the NHL's very best goaltenders for the Carolina Hurricanes this season, except when he played the Boston Bruins. In fact the Eastern Conference champs owned Ward during the regular season, beating him all four times they played as the netminder posted a 3.89 goals against average and an .871 save percentage.

So it probably shouldn't have been a big surprise when Boston was able to overwhelm Ward and his teammates in a convincing series opening win Friday.

But things can change quickly in the playoffs, especially when the Hurricanes are involved. They proved that in the opening round by winning three times after losses against New Jersey, and they did it again tonight as Ward rebounded with a great game and the Hurricanes followed his lead to win 3-0 and tie the series at 1-1.

"We earned it tonight," said Ward, who stopped 36 shots, 16 of them in the third period when the Bruins finally hit desperation mode.

They did. Carolina was full value for a win that should get it over a psychological hump it has had this season against Boston, although the Bruins made it a little easier for them by playing with the kind of lethargy that might have been expected in the opener after they were idle for more than a week. Boston was uncharacteristically sloppy, got little from its top players and had a horrible time on special teams, particularly the struggling power play which not only failed to score again, but allowed a back breaking short handed goal by Matt Cullen in the second period.

The Hurricanes had a lot to do with Boston's problems of course, largely because they dominated the neutral zone which cut off the transition game that is so critical to the Bruins success. But Carolina made it clear it was ready to play at the opening faceoff when Eric Staal got in the face of Patrice Bergeron, and then the Hurricanes used their speed and aggressive forechecking to dictate the tempo of the game.

And with Ward at his best, that was enough.
Category: NHL

Since: Dec 19, 2006
Posted on: May 4, 2009 2:22 pm

Ward-ing off the demons

Hey, Carolina outhustled Boston last night and Ward was very solid in the 3rd period when the real Bruins finally showed up to play (too late, of course).  Good game by the Canes.  Hot goalies can steal series, and the last thing you want to do is fall behind by multiple goals and not bring offensive pressure until time is running out.  That gives the goalie the upper hand psychologically, which the Bruins did and may regret as the series goes forward.  I predicted the Canes would win Game 2, but I sure didn't think Boston would play 2 lazy periods to start the game.  It felt like they were overconfident after going 5-0 until then in the postseason.  Interestingly enough both of the other 5-0 teams also lost yesterday and the day before, so the lack of getting challenged clearly leads to overconfidence eventually.  I hope the Bruins wake up and realize they are not playing the Canadiens anymore.  I think they are still a better team than Carolina, and they should still have better legs.  But they have let the Canes back into this series by boosting Ward's confidence, and I think it is critical that they score first tomorrow night.  All that being said, I have never seen more pucks roll over sticks than I saw for the B's last night.  They missed at least 2 open nets due to bad bounces of the puck lst night, and that won't happen again.  Boston played about as badly as they could play for 2 periods and still were down 2-0 off a screened shot that Thomas never saw and a point-blank slapper off a puck passed from behind the net.  Carolina may win another game in this series, but Boston will remember what happened in the 2nd half when they got overconfident and stopped skating hard, and they will right the ship with a solid win tomorrow.  The Canes will win the best game of the series in Game 4, but then Boston's physical play and fatigue from the Jersey series will start to catch up with them, and the last 2 games will not be very competitive.

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: May 4, 2009 12:23 pm

Ward-ing off the demons

monnguse - Let's see Cam Ward has won the Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe 3 game 7's in the playoffs and has proven that he can up his game to the level of intensitiy the Playoffs require. 

Tim Thomas on the other hand, played one series last year, lost a game 7 to the Canadiens.  This year he beat a Canadiens team that was hurt and had a lot of their starters on the DL.  Also, there hasn't been a Vezina winner win the cup since when 2003, with Brodeur?  So based on Playoff experience and proof of being able to handle the pressure who would you take?  If you say Thomas,  then you really are banking off a hope and a prayer, I'm not saying Tim is a bad goalie, nor am I saying he won't come up big, but the past indicates when all is on the line in a game 7 he failed.  In fact Tim was shut out 5 - 0.  That is 5 goals in a game 7, that doesn't bode too well if you ask me.

Rev - in 2006 I can tell you each and every Caniac prayed each game that Cam could keep up the pace he established for himself in the 1st round when he came off the bench and stiffled the Canadiens.  And each round Cammy came out on top.  He stopped the Devils, then the Sabres and finally the Oilers.  Were we confidient that he could?  Well, we learned to believe in our Rookie, so for a short answer, No we were not sure what would happen or what type of play we would get with Cam when he came on in the Playoffs.  Just like the Caps fan don't know how their Rookie Goal Tender will respond.  They hope he continues to play like he is but they can't say he will carry them to the finals just yet.

Since: Jul 2, 2007
Posted on: May 4, 2009 11:02 am

Ward-ing off the demons

mikeyfan, with all due respect, I don't know that you can say that if goaltending wins the series the advantage goes to the Hurricanes. Cam Ward is a very good goalie and performed incredibly in game 2, but Tim Thomas is a candidate and likely winner this year for the vezina trophy as the best goaltender in the NHL. If Goaltending decides this series, it will be edge to whichever team's goaltender plays out of their mind which they're both capable of, not necessarily to the canes.

Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: May 4, 2009 9:33 am

Ward-ing off the demons

;     &nbs
p;   Now I know you weren't saying that during Cam Ward's first trip to the second, third, and final round, were you? You were probably saying something like, 'experience has nothing to do with it when your goalie is hot'.

  Good luck. I like Cameron. I was fortunate to watch him play all through his junior years. But, I have been a Bruins fans for way too many losing runs. This is their year.

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: May 4, 2009 7:31 am

Ward-ing off the demons

Wes glad to see you finally gave the Hurricanes credit for a strong game.  The Hurricanes dominated the 2nd period but can't be happy with the way they played the 3rd.  The 'Canes got away with sitting on the lead in the 3rd period but they can't do that again and expect to get away with it.  All we hear about is Tim Thomas and his outstanding season, but let's not forget this is Thomas's first trip in the second round and Cam has yet to lose a series.  Goaltending will probably win this series and if it does, advantage Cam Ward and the Hurricanes. 

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