Cam Ward Injury Leaves Carolina Hurricanes Undermanned at Worst Time

Mark JonesSenior Analyst IOctober 25, 2013

Oct 24, 2013; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) makes a save during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive season, the Carolina Hurricanes will find themselves without a No. 1 and No. 2 goaltender for a crucial stretch of the campaign.

Former Conn Smythe trophy-winner Cam Ward jerked uncomfortably on a Mikael Granlund shot wide early in Thursday's game against the Minnesota Wild, leaving the game moments later. 

/Getty Images

With highly touted offseason signing Anton Khudobin also still nursing a lower-body injury suffered 10 days ago, third-string man Justin Peters, a career disaster at the NHL level, was forced to enter the game.

Peters allowed goals on his first two shots en route to a 3-1 loss for the Canes.

The 27-year-old, boasting just 15 wins and a 3.29 GAA in 48 lifetime appearances, will now have to handle Carolina's meetings with the one-loss Colorado Avalanche (away, Friday, 9 p.m. EDT) and the two-loss Pittsburgh Penguins (home, Monday, 7 p.m. EDT) before Khudobin's hopeful return next Friday versus the Tampa Bay Lightning (home, 7 p.m. EDT).

Career AHL-er Mike Murphy, 24, will be recalled in time for Friday's meeting with the Avalanche, as per Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer. Murphy has struggled in Charlotte so far this season, going 1-2-0 with a woeful .873 save percentage in three starts to date.

The Hurricanes' goaltending situation is getting desperate, to say the least.

Oct 24, 2013; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Justin Peters (35) makes a save during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Hurricanes 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Spor

The current scenario almost exactly mirrors the situation that arose last spring, when Ward missed the final two months of the regular season with a torn MCL and then-backup Dan Ellis was sidelined for two weeks with a leg laceration.

Peters went 1-3 with a save percentage below .895 in three of four appearances during the pressured stretch.

Truthfully, the Canes' chances of winning with Peters in goal are minuscule; against two opponents with a combined 15-3-0 record this season, their chances are essentially nonexistent.

That's simply the reality Carolina must live with.

September 27, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA;  Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller looks on before the start of the game against the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Center. The Hurricanes defeated the Sabres 1-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

With Elias Lindholm, Tim Gleason, Patrick Dwyer and now Jeff Skinner, as per Erin Summers of WRAL-TV, also injured—although the first two could possibly be available for return Friday night, via Alexander—Kirk Muller will have some interesting choices to make during the testing weekend.

Should Gleason and Lindholm really be inserted into the lineup, even if medically cleared?

Should Murphy get his chance back in North Carolina on Monday if Peters struggles in Colorado?

Should a drastic lineup change be made to accommodate Jiri Tlusty and Jordan Staal's offensive consistency struggles?

Should young forwards like Chris Terry, Zach Boychuk, Victor Rask and Aaron Palushaj get their chance soon?

How much risk should the Canes take in going after two longshot wins?

The upcoming goaltender-less stretch could well evolve into a defining moment of the Hurricanes' 2013-14 season and perhaps the Hurricanes' new, fresh, Metro Division-infused winning attitude, as well.


Mark Jones has been a Carolina Hurricanes featured columnist for Bleacher Report since 2009. Visit his profile to read more, or follow him on Twitter.