Having picked up Martin St Louis, who finally whined enough to get his way and be traded off the Tampa Bay Lightning, and at the same time dumping Ryan Callahan, the Rangers are picking up steam. Despite coming off of a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Rangers are still in a better place than the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes had a horrendous trade day, having shipped the embattled forward Tuomo Ruutu off to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Andrei Loktionov — who may or may not ditch to play in the KHL after this season. Slap on top of all of that the recent road trip out west where the Hurricanes came away with only one win out of five, and that being an overtime pull-one-out against the San Jose Sharks. Facing the Rangers after an abysmal road trip with uncertainty in the lineup is not what the Hurricanes need right now. If the planets were to align, Carolina would have a smaller stakes game against a team that’s perhaps not in as good of shape. Bringing St. Louis onto the team is a shot in the arm for New York, and the Hurricanes are wise to not want any of that.
Not to mention the new conundrum in the goaltending corps.
Hurricanes GM and talking jelly jar Jim Rutherford explained on Wednesday that the team is going to go ahead and carry three goaltenders for the remainder of the season — since apparently Rutherford has some kind of bet with someone as to how many seasons in a row he can ruin. Smart money is on eight.
Keeping Cam Ward on the roster is a mistake of enormous proportions. While a bold statement, it’s true that if the back of Ward’s sweater had another name on it he’d be in New Jersey or somewhere else with a goalie vacuum. Ward has turned into a complete train wreck the entire season and is showing every sign of getting nothing but worse. At the same time, Anton Khudobin is nails right now. He and Justin Peters have what it takes to get it done. Yet, Rutherford is happier to go ahead and pay Ward to be awful while still retaining some of Ruutu’s salary.
Khudobin is expected to start against the Rangers, which holds a little promise. There’s a great chance he could shut down the top lines, including St. Louis. The game is not completely out of Carolina’s reach, but it’ll be an uphill fight that Carolina really doesn’t need to be fighting at the moment.