Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Cam Ward down—can Ellis step up?

The Southeast Division is in a state where the winner goes on, and everyone else goes home. Carolina is currently that team, but with Cam Ward out for the next 6-8 weeks (read: rest of the season) with an MCL sprain, the playoff waters are now a bit more muddied. Even if there's a "medical miracle" and they braced Ward's affected knee, he would lose balance and lateral stability, and a goalie with lowered balance and lateral stability is one who gets beaten on a lot of wraparounds and second shots.

Dan Ellis now has the chance to show he can once again be a number one goaltender in the NHL. Ellis has gone from being the starting goaltender for the Nashville Predators in the 2007-2008 season to a role as backup. At this point in his career, he has to show he can take over the role as the lead goaltender, or he'll find himself watching from the bench as Justin Peters, called up from Charlotte, takes the role away from him.

It's about to get a little more nerve-wrenching for both Carolina and the Southeast Division.

From Chip Alexander at the News & Observer:

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward will be sidelined six to eight weeks with a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in a knee, the team announced Monday.

No surgery will be required, general manager Jim Rutherford said.

Ward suffered the injury Sunday during the Canes' game against the Florida Panthers. Rutherford said Ward underwent an MRI on Monday.

Ward initially was injured during a collision with Panthers forward Jack Skille with more than 11 minutes left in the second period of the Canes' 3-2 win, Rutherford said. Skille was driving to the net and was tied up by defenseman Justin Faulk, sending Skille and Faulk sliding into Ward's left leg.

The Canes will recall goalie Justin Peters from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL to back up Dan Ellis.

"(Peters') development has been very good,and he's having his best year as a pro," Rutherford said. "He's had an exceptional year in Charlotte." Ward started for the Canes on Saturday in the first of the home-and-home Southeast Division series with the Panthers. The Canes won 6-2, and backup goalie Ellis was to have started the second game in Sunrise, Fla.

But Ellis did not feel well before the Sunday game, forcing Ward into action. After the collision, Ward remained in the game but soon needed to be helped off the ice with 11:04 left in the second period.

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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies

23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.

On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.

I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.

We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.

It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!