The only thing the word ‘consistency’ has in common with the Carolina Hurricanes lately is that they both begin with the letter ‘C’. While they were able to mount a pretty impressive comeback to defeat the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, Carolina started 2014 with a pretty healthy case of the uh-ohs.
Early Tuesday afternoon, reports surfaced that goaltender Anton Khudobin had been recalled from Charlotte (AHL) where he had just completed a brief conditioning assignment. This was actually a tad odd, since Carolina already had two healthy goaltenders in Cam Ward and Justin Peters. Carrying three goaltenders is like trying to ride two bikes at once, and conventional wisdom pointed to Peters not finishing the day in a Hurricanes uniform.
This all follows Monday’s news of GM Jim Rutherford first holding a meeting with head coach Kirk Muller and VP of Hockey Operations Ron Francis that resulted in his promise to do what it takes to reverse the ‘slide’. What ended up happening was a largely symbolic deal with the Calgary Flames.
Break to Tuesday night and defenseman Tim Gleason — whose name has been a regular fixture on the trade wire — did not dress for warm-ups and was a healthy scratch. This immediately prompted rumors of his trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman John-Michael Liles being a done deal. Incidentally, Khudobin was a healthy scratch alongside Gleason which would prove to be fortuitous.
Nothing happened until midday Wednesday when the News And Observer confirmed Gleason was in fact traded to Toronto in exchange for Liles and defensive prospect Dennis Robertson.
This makes a lot of things weird. Not good, not bad — just a little weird. First of all, where will Liles fit in? While he’s not a bad player, finding a place on the team and ‘clicking’ is a crap-shoot at best. It’s not like you can just throw a guy out there and have it be cool. As with any trade, nothing is guaranteed. Where this gets specific for Carolina is that they need this chemistry to work and need it to work a week ago. They don’t have the luxury of letting things pan out as Rutherford is so fond of doing.
As if the new year didn’t start off weird enough, the Hurricanes also confirmed via Twitter that Ward had gotten himself a whole new injury and would not be making the trip to face the Washington Capitals on Thursday. This is possibly the one time in recent memory that the Hurricanes have landed on their feet. This gives Muller a fantastic opportunity to take good hard looks at both Khudobin and Peters as they also face the New York Islanders on Saturday.
It’s expected that Liles should be available to suit up on Thursday assuming he makes it to Washington in time. As for Ward, only time will tell.