The Carolina Hurricanes were dealt some bad news on Monday when the team announced that starting goaltender Cam Ward has a third-degree MCL sprain. The prognosis calls for him to miss six to eight weeks.
With this shortened season nearing the halfway mark, that would mean Ward's season is pretty much done, at least the regular season. If the Hurricanes are able to hold on to a playoff spot he would likely be able to return in the playoffs.
The good news is that no surgery will be required.
Ward was injured in Sunday's win over the Florida Panthers. In the second period he was on the receiving end of a collision in net when Panthers winger Jack Skille was crashing hard to the net and lost an edge, slamming into Ward. Just seconds later Ward attempted to make a save on a shot from the point and then crumpled over.
Trainers came onto the ice and helped Ward off as he was replaced by Dan Ellis. Ellis was originally slated to get the start against the Panthers but was ill so Ward took the second start in as many days against Florida.
The plan for the Hurricanes now is going to be to ride with Ellis and Justin Peters as their goaltending combo. Ellis certainly doesn't have the greatest reputation from some of his struggles in recent years, but he has been pretty good for the Hurricanes in his backup role. He has experience and could be able to hold the fort down, particularly in the Southeast Division.
Peters has seen time in the NHL, appearing in 28 games over the past three seasons. Last season he played seven games for the Hurricanes and had a 2-3-2 record with a .931 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average. So the Canes could do worse for a backup.
Ward, who has been the Hurricanes' No. 1 goalie since 2006-07, is 9-6-1 this season with a .908 save percentage and 2.84 goals against average. The toughest part about this injury coming now is that Ward had started to play his best hockey and was bringing those numbers up. He was shutting out the Panthers before suffering the injury on Sunday. The Hurricanes held on for a 3-2 win.