The last time someone other than Cam Ward started for Carolina was on Dec. 3. Michael Leighton got the call that night, a 4-2 loss to the Rangers in New York.
Since then, Leighton’s played a grand total of 34 minutes.
Eddie Lack, Ward’s usual backup, hasn’t played at all as he’s currently sidelined with a concussion.
Jorge Alves, the club’s 37-year-old equipment manager and occasional practice goalie, received eight seconds of relief time in late December.
So yeah, Ward’s been a busy guy.
Fourth among all NHL netminders in games played and third in minutes, Ward will make his 17th consecutive start this evening when the ‘Canes host the Blue Jackets in Carolina.
It’s a heavy workload, no doubt, though ‘Canes head coach Bill Peters doesn’t seem too concerned about burning Ward out. At least not concerned outwardly.
“Our schedule has been fairly favorable,” Peters said prior to Sunday’s OT win over the Bruins, per Fox Sports. “There has been a couple of back-to-backs, but nothing ridiculous.”
Ward has been solid, if unspectacular, while carrying the load. He’s posted a 15-12-6 record with a .915 save percentage and 2.28 GAA, and is on pace for his most starts since getting 68 back in the ’11-12 campaign.
For the Blue Jackets, Anton Forsberg will get the start in his first game as the club’s new backup. Curtis McElhinney, the veteran who’s served as Sergei Bobrovsky‘s No. 2 for most of the year, was waived yesterday and claimed by Toronto today.
— Steve Mason will look to snap a personal six-game losing streak as he gets the nod for Philly in Buffalo. The Sabres will counter with Anders Nilsson, who gets the start with Robin Lehner out with the flu.
— Ryan Miller, coming off a 44-save win over Calgary on Friday, goes back in for Vancouver after Jacob Markstrom faced the Flames in the second of a back-to-back on Saturday. Miller will take on Pekka Rinne, who starts for the host Preds.