One minute, it’s the way everything needs to be, but then there’s the occasional ‘would someone please do something cry.’ Current goaltenders Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters are filling in nicely for the injured Cam Ward. While fate decides Ward’s situation, things remained stable. That is until Peters had a positively embarrassing first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
There’s two ways this can go. First, it’s obvious Peters had a little rink rust going on. He had been behind Khudobin for a few games and it was clear he was chucked in the deep end against Tampa Bay. On the other hand, it’s all a deep end in the NHL. Any goaltender needs to be on his game at any given moment. Even if they’re a backup — especially if they’re a backup. This question in Peters’ readiness could creep up and affect the future of Ward.
The other point to be made is that Peters simply had a bad night. Bad nights happen and Peters just had himself one. Khudobin came in, stopped the bleeding somewhat– and life went on. Goalies do this and that’s a thing. It does not change in any way the fact that Ward is becoming more useless with each passing day.
Should Peters show he’s still a reliable backup, Ward is out of there. If he can’t, Ward stays.
That’s how it sits. Should Carolina GM and current concussion victim Jim Rutherford decide to stop running his business based on loyalties and trade Ward — that would be good. Yet, if he keeps with the trend of running the team like a soup kitchen and keep Ward based on him being a nice guy — that would honestly pan out in the end as well. It’s that weird kind of situation where Rutherford almost cannot screw it up. Though he probably will find a way.
Letting Peters take one or two more swings at it before making any decision is the right call here. Yet at the same time, Ward should begin to prepare for the very real possibility of being shown the exit.