The Southeast Division of the NHL’s Eastern Conference just became anyone’s race to win after Cam Ward’s MCL injury. The Carolina Hurricanes stud goaltender has been stellar between the pipes with 214 career victories in eight seasons. The former all-star was off to a decent start before it was announced Monday that he would be out for the next six to eight weeks.
Cam Ward has been sporting a rare 2.84 goals against average, the highest in his career since the 06′-07′ season. I believe it’s safe to say his play wasn’t the only reason the Hurricanes have held onto the division lead. With that said, Ward’s backup, Dan Ellis, has only appeared in seven games this season.
Dan Ellis hasn’t seen much time in the NHL over the past few years, which raises major concerns for the Hurricanes. Ward’s injury will force Carolina to call up their young prospect in waiting, Justin Peters. Peters has been great for the Hurricanes American Hockey League affiliate Charlotte Checkers in 37 games.
Posting a 22-12-1 record in Charlotte, Justin Peters name has been thrown around a lot over the past few years, mostly over why he hasn’t played much in the NHL. Peters has continually impressed scouts in the minors and will finally get his shot with the Hurricanes after the unfortunate injury to Cam Ward.
Carolina is currently 12-8-1, but only four points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets. The Tampa Bay Lightning are six points back while the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers are just eight points behind.
The Capitals have struggled to begin the season, but Alex Ovechkin and company have played much better of late. The Jets stormed to second after the start of a four game skid by the Lightning.
Cam Ward will be out for the next six to eight weeks, making Dan Ellis the starter and Justin Peters his backup for a pretty good amount of time barring another injury.
The Southeast should start heating up and the Hurricanes will immediately feel the pressure. Three of their next five games are against teams from their own division, two with the Capitals followed by a trip to Tampa Bay.
The Winnipeg Jets take on the Lightning in a battle for second Thursday night in Tampa Bay, a game sandwiched in between two meetings with the Florida Panthers who currently have been surprisingly okay. No matter how these next few weeks go, you can be sure that Cam Ward’s injury will have a huge impact on the Southeast Division.