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Rutherford expects Ward back soon

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Goaltender Cam Ward missed Monday's road game at Tampa Bay with a skin infection but general manager Jim Rutherford said today he expects Ward back soon. Rutherford said Ward was scheduled to see a dermatologist today.

"We think Cam will be fine in the next day or two," Rutherford said.

Ward had started 10 straight games before Monday, with 45 saves in a 3-2 shootout win Thursday in Atlanta and then 43 stops Saturday as the Canes topped the Anaheim Ducks 4-2.

Canes coach Paul Maurice said Ward had a lot of swelling above his eye during the morning skate in Tampa. Maurice said it was not a rash but an infection.

"We wanted to be very careful with it," Maurice said. "If you catch it early, that's one thing. But it can be serious.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed that he can play Thursday (against Montreal)."

With Ward unable to play Monday, Justin Peters took over in net and allowed five goals on 34 shots as the Lightning won 5-1 to end the Canes' four-game winning streak.

Maurice said he did not anticipate any line changes for the game against the Habs. The Canes will practice Wednesday at the RecZone.

"I don't want to over-react to one loss," he said. "I liked our first period. I did not like that it came out 2-1 (Lightning). Part of the second period got away from us. The game was clearly not good but I'm not going to over-react.

"We have to be more consistent with our forwards helping our defense. But that's all of the process of five working as one."

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Forwards Helping Out the Defense

The problem of forwards keeping their positioning in mind and particularly ensuring there is a high forward relates to speed and vision.  Dwyer and Sutter cover huge amounts of ice due to their speed and they have the make up speed to get back to help the defense.  It's also a matter of conviction and will.  It's worth noting that the Hurricanes are 4 and 1 in their last five games and there isn't reason to panic.  There is reason to assess whether the lines as constituted have sufficient speed and physicality to be able to have forward coming back with speed to help the defense. 

   Skinner always seems to have enough in the tank to get back to help even at the end of a long shift.  Sutter, too, is virtually always back-checking no matter how long the shift or how skilled the person he is defending. One way to tell if the Canes are playing their style of Hurricanes hockey is that they seem to be outnumbering their opponents.  When they struggle, some of the forwards seem to be two or three strides behind the defensive play and gasping a bit for air. 

  As far as I am concerned Carter and Bodie always seem excited to be on the ice and I've never seen either one take a shift off or float back.  They display a sense of wanting to earn their right to stick with the team by winning each shift.  I applaud Jim Rutherford and Jason Karmanos, Jr. for putting a high value on obtaining players who love to play hockey and who love to compete.  I find that kind of attitude fun to watch and makes me proud to support the team.
 

Ward

Where did this infection come from? And if he can't start Thur. night, I wonder who will called up as backup. As far as last night's game goes sounded like we were putting shots on net but defensively we stunk. Saw the highlights and Martin St. Louis goal at the end of the first period was not a goal. Puck never cross the line. Another blown call by the ref's and the NHL. Hey it would be nice if we heard something from JR about what he thinks of the Canes play so far this season and if their any other personnel changes coming.

St Louis' goal

The goal by St Louis at the end of the first *was* good. We watched on Center Ice and they had a perfect view of it from the top and the puck clearly crossed the line.

St. Louis Goal

I watched on Center Ice as well. Sad but true, it was a good goal.  I wish it were not so.  It was the result of a brain freeze by the Hurricanes who knew better than to risk giving up a goal on the road with less than a second to go.  If the Canes had been better in their offensive end, the puck doesn't get out.  It's a learning lesson for a young team: simplify, especially on the road and play the odds. 

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at chip.alexander@newsobserver.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.
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