When Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller was reflecting on the his team’s “Jekyll and Hyde” 2013 campaign, it wasn’t hard for him to determine the turning point.
“A lot of it had to do around the time [goaltender] Cam [Ward] got injured,” Muller told the NHL.com. “Up until then, we were leading our division.”
Of course, Ward wasn’t the only noteworthy Hurricanes player that suffered a significant injury last season, but shortly after he went down, Carolina went on a stretch where it won just two of 17 games.
Carolina has made a habit of leaning heavily on Ward, with him appearing in at least 68 games in four of the last five seasons going into the shortened 2013 campaign. The only exception was in 2009-10 and as you might have guessed, that was also due to significant injuries.
For better and worse, the Hurricanes’ fate has been tied to Ward since he led them to their first and only Stanley Cup championship as a rookie. There’s no question that Ward is still an important piece of the puzzle going into 2013-14, but the Hurricanes hope to have found a solid alternative in Anton Khudobin.
Khudobin has enjoyed years of success at the AHL level and he finally got his big break last season with the Boston Bruins. He took advantage of it, posting a 2.32 GAA and .920 save percentage in 14 games as Tuukka Rask’s understudy.
Of course, Khudobin still is thin on NHL experience, so Ward is still their safest bet. That’s especially true given that Ward should be healthy going into the season and highly motivated after being snubbed from Team Canada’s orientation camp.
Still, if they had Khudobin last season instead of Dan Ellis and Justin Peters, perhaps things would have turned out differently. Perhaps history won’t repeat itself if Ward goes down again.
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: Bullet dodged?