While the overtime thriller may have been just the thing to rally the troops and pick up an extra point in a week that saw none, it’s not the rainbow fans have waited for. To call it any sort of relief or redemption is myopic and plain wrong. The big story that should have been a bigger one was goaltender Anton Khudobin signing a new two-year contract to the tune of $4.5 million. Khudobin showed why that was a good investment later that night with a stellar game against San Jose.
Save for one really bad mistake — heading behind the net for no reason, resulting in a goal-against — there was nothing Tuesday night that pointed towards Khudobin being anything but the starting goalie.
As big a win as the Hurricanes took off of San Jose, it pales in comparison to the road that lies ahead for the remainder of the season. San Jose, while falling in OT, was able to completely manhandle the Hurricanes at many points in the game. Carolina’s game plan seemed to be thrown together on the fly and was largely reactive rather than proactive. The play in transition, offensive zone entry and all the signs of confident play just wasn’t there. Spending as much of the second period on their heels as they did is not a rosy picture.
The elephant in the room for the coaching staff and front office has been the fact that the Hurricanes are far too talented to be squeaking out overtime wins and justifying performance as not being “that bad.”
The other elephant is the Khudobin vs. Cam Ward situation brewing. With Khudobin’s new contract, he is out of the trade market. Ward on the other hand, is or is not — depending on whom you speak to. Logic and reason dictates that Ward needed to be on the market a long time ago, and due to Hurricanes GM and human Play-Dough jar Jim Rutherford dealing with heart and not head, Ward is still in Carolina.
Khudobin’s performance in San Jose proved hands down he belongs in the number one spot, and Ward’s performance against the Anaheim Ducks proves he needs to pack quietly and quickly on his way out.
When 3 p.m. ET rolls around and the NHL Trade Deadline arrives, the OT win in San Jose should prove to be the impetus for a massive shift in the Hurricanes’ hockey philosophy moving forward. However, with Rutherford at the helm, don’t count on it.