The Carolina Hurricanes' 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday wasn't lacking for stars or headliners from the home team.
Cam Ward, playing his 72nd game, earned his 36th win and had 42 saves in his fourth shutout of the season. Rookie forward Jeff Skinner scored his 30th goal. Veteran forward Erik Cole scored his 25th. Captain Eric Staal had three assists. It was a long list.
General manager Jim Rutherford said today that Ward should be in contention for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie and that Skinner should win the Calder Trophy as the top rookie. He also praised Cole, saying, "This is the best year he's had. The way he has played the game, being a good all-around player and being a threat on the ice all the time, this is his best professional year."
On Ward, Rutherford said, "There have been a lot of players contribute to our team, but the reason we are where we are is because of Cam."
Rutherford said the fact Skinner is 18 and the NHL's youngest player should factor into the Calder voting.
"Any time a player comes into the league at 18 and plays the way Jeff has, that's very special," Rutherford said. "He's certainly deserving."
Skinner was asked after the Wings game if he ever would have imagined scoring 30 goals in his first year as a pro, in the NHL.
"No, not at the beginning of the season," Skinner said. "I've been fortunate to play in some great situations and with some great line mates."
Cole, due to become a free agent after the season, said this week that he has had "a pretty good year." Canes coach Paul Maurice certainly agrees with that after seeing Cole limited to 40 games last season because of a broken leg and then upper-body issues.
"He's had a lot of injuries and he's played through a lot of injuries the last two years," Maurice said. "He would never get a body of work behind him where he could get back to being the goal scorer that he is.
"He's found that now. He's got the confidence on his stick. His overall game is very good. He's a threat to the other team's defense. He's pushed himself to be this good."