Erik Cole and Cam Ward of the Hurricanes celebrate their win against the Bruins during Game 7. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Steve Yzerman probably didn’t see Thursday night’s Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes. Something about having another game to watch, or something like that.
Well, let’s give him something to chew on, then. Hey Steve, you might want to consider Cam Ward for the Canadian Olympic team in Vancouver in 2010.
By the way, when we say you should consider Cam Ward, we mean you should seriously look at this guy as your No. 1 goalie for the Games. We’re not kidding here, Steve. And while you’re at it, you’ll probably want to consider where Eric Staal is going to fit on your roster.
The 25-year-old Ward added another chapter to his growing resume as a big-game monster Thursday night when he stopped 35 shots, eight of them in overtime, to help the Hurricanes to a 3-2 win and their second upset of this year’s playoffs. And since they’re the lowest-seeded team among the four remaining in the playoffs, they’ll need two more of them to win another Stanley Cup. Not that anything like that seems to faze these guys.
(For the record, NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell gets a big, big assist in helping the Hurricanes win this series. Scott Walker scored the series winner in overtime, but if there were any sense of logic in the NHL’s offices, Walker would not have even been playing after he cold-cocked unsuspecting Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward in the face in Game 5. But all we heard after the game was how Walker overcame a whole pile of adversity to be the hero. To these eyes, getting off Scott (Walker) free doesn’t exactly qualify as adversity.)
In any event, back to Ward, who went into the playoffs this spring as a guy who might fill the No. 3 spot in the Canadian goal behind Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur. But with Thursday night’s victory, Ward is now 4-0 in Game 7’s, including defeating Brodeur in the first round, something the Canadian brain trust will certainly have to consider when it looks at which goalie will be best equipped to handle the pressure that will come with playing the Olympics on home soil.
And that is what might just make Ward so valuable. Nothing seems to faze this guy and it seems the more those around him lose their heads, the more technical and poised he seems to be in his crease. He moves side-to-side great, which will be a boon when it comes to stopping those skilled Russians and Swedes. And don’t forget, Ward was terrific in leading Canada to the silver medal at the World Championship last spring in Quebec City.
So now the Hurricanes take their ridiculously entertaining show on the road to Pittsburgh to face a team that will, once again, be heavily favored to knock them off in the Eastern Conference final. It should prove to be an interesting showdown of skill and speed against unwavering determination, opportunistic scoring and, of course, outstanding goaltending.
Nobody expects the Hurricanes to win, but all that means is that even before the series starts, the ‘Canes have the Penguins right where they want them.
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Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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