The Carolina Hurricanes put goaltender Cam Ward on the spot during a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Friday night.
For the second time in three games, Ward was pulled from the net and replaced by Mike Murphy as a result of inconsistent defensive play that had the Hurricanes trailing the Jets 4-0 at the mid-point of the second period.
Murphy, who came in to replace Ward for the second time in his NHL career, earned his NHL debut just three nights earlier when he filled Ward’s spot against the Calgary Flames with under nine minutes to play in the third period.
As the Hurricanes have only won two games in their last 10, and only once under the leadership of coach Kirk Muller in his six games leading the team, no outward emotion has been shown by anyone on the team – until Friday night.
Four is the number
After the Calgary loss, Muller alluded to the fact that the fourth goal against his team was a difference-maker in terms of slowing the team’s momentum at the time.
“Whenever it seems that we just get that one bad bounce, we just get momentum and we just can’t seem to sustain it, and with a certain goal at the wrong time, (it) just deflates us,” Muller said after that game.
However, Muller did not bring Ward out against Calgary until just past the halfway point of the third period with the team trailing 6-3.
Thus, with the Hurricanes falling behind early on against Winnipeg and with four goals scored against Ward after facing 30 shots in just over 31 minutes, Muller pulled the all-star goalie to make way for Murphy who stopped all seven shots he faced for the remainder of the game.
“It’s the old saying – catch-up hockey is losing hockey,” Muller said after the loss to Winnipeg. “Every bad bounce, we pay the price for it.”
Those bad bounces cost Ward his opportunity to stay in the game and he made it known that he wasn’t happy.
Emotion finally shows
Ward’s reaction to getting the hook looked to be brewing while he skated to the bench – it was building and only a matter of time until it exploded.
Once he reached his destination, the emotion finally showed and for about 5-10 seconds.
As Ward entered the far end of the bench area and closed the gate, he let loose with a tremendous kick to the bench door while screaming and turning his head down the bench before extending a smaller final boot to the door and verbal release before assuming a seat with his mask still on.
What he said to himself and his teammates is not known, but it is a safe bet that it would get an R-rating.
Thanks for caring
Regardless of how many positives you can take from losing a game, two, and even eight at that, showing some emotion is acceptable and necessary.
Ward finally showed his frustration on Friday night and good for him.
A quiet and reserved man said more with his actions in that short period of time than he ever would in a post-game interview.
The nature of being human is to show emotion and by Ward exhibiting his feelings to everyone watching him that night, he provided relief to many by showing he cares and that he wants the team to play better.
Don’t we all?
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