It's not exactly "The Return of the King", like in the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy, but the Carolina Hurricanes are pretty happy about the return of their franchise goalie to his rightful spot between the pipes as the Canes, (7-17-5) take on the New Jersey Devils, (20-7-1) tonight at "The Rock". After the netminder was sliced and diced by Rick Nash's skate in Columbus on November 7, the team has been riding the backs of two goalies who had not played very much up until that point in time.
Michael Leighton had barely seen any action as the team rode Cam Ward almost every game up to the date of his injury, even for back-to-back affairs. Manny Legace was scooped up from the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, where he was one of three goalies on the roster.
Legace won four games for the Hurricanes during these trying times and seems to have prevailed in the "Cam Ward backup" sweepstakes. More about that later.
Ward started off the year pretty well, but eventually succumbed to the onslaught of shots against him. His numbers before the injury are nothing to write home about. He will be facing Martin Brodeur, who just earned his 103rd career shutout, tying him with Terry Sawchuk's NHL record.
|2009 - Cam Ward||15||829||2||9||41||2.97||406||365||.899||0|
|2009 - Martin Brodeur||26||1562||18||7||55||2.11||706||651||.922||2|
While the Devils have been gangbusters on the road, (11-2-1), their home record is not bad either. (9-5-0). They are currently riding a three game winning streak and have won six of their last seven.
The Atlantic Division leaders are led in scoring by Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Travis Zajac.
|2009 - Zach Parise||28||15||17||32||18||8||2||1||1||0||125||12.0|
|2009 - Jamie Langenbrunner||28||7||19||26||10||10||1||1||2||0||72||9.7|
|2009 - Travis Zajac||28||9||16||25||15||10||3||0||0||0||72||12.5|
The Canes are led by Ray Whitney with 20 points. Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu have 17 each.
After much hullabaloo, Rod Brind`Amour will be back in the lineup tonight. Sergei Samsonov is out with a lower body injury. Otherwise, look for the same lineup as Monday night. (Nic Wallin remains out).
The puck drops at 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by FS Carolinas. We will have the open game thread starting at 6:30.
John will have relevant Jersey news over at In Lou We Trust.