Found March 04, 2013 on Shutdown Line:
The Hurricanes did themselves a huge favor this weekend by picking up two wins against the Florida Panthers because it now gives them a bit of a cushion on their lead in the Southeast Division. Things are still pretty tight, though as the Winnipeg Jets trail them by only four points and Canes have recently come out of a stretch where they lost three divisional games. Carolina's record is padded thanks to a 10-3-1 record against the rest of the Eastern Conference but constantly giving games away to divisional opponents is going to allow other teams to stay in the race, which is why their lead is far from safe. Add in the fact that the Canes have 11 divisional games left and things could easily turn out bad for Carolina if they continue to struggle in the division, which is why getting two wins over Florida was huge.   Last time we checked the standings based on how many points each team has earned and how many games they had remaining, the Hurricanes and Lightning were in the best positions to win the Southeast with both needing to gain points in about 56-57% of their games to reach 55 points. Since then, the Hurricanes have earned eight points in seven games while the Lightning won only one of six and earned only two points. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets have climbed their way back into the mix by earning eight points in six games, taking over second place in the division from Tampa Bay. They are obviously in a better position now but it's only slightly improved compared to where it was a couple weeks ago.. Team GR Pts Avail. Needed Point% Div. Carolina 27 25 54 30 55.6% 11 Winnipeg 27 21 54 34 63.0% 12 Tampa Bay 27 19 54 36 66.7% 11 Washington 28 17 56 38 67.9% 11 Florida 26 17 52 38 73.1% 9 GR = Games Remaining, Pts = Points, Avail. = Points available, Needed = Points needed to 55, Point% = Percentage of games they need to earn points to get to 55, Div. = Divisional games remaining  The Hurricanes recent three-game win streak put them back into the same position where they were a few weeks ago since they need to earn points in a little over 55% of their remaining games to get to 55 points. They still control their own fate since things will get easier on the rest of the Southeast with every game they lose, especially if it's against a divisional foe. Sports Club Stats has Carolina at favorable odds to make the playoffs and says they need to win 16-17 games to clinch while 14-15 wins will give them a good shot, which sounds about right. On the other hand, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay and Washington need to do a lot more simply to put themselves in a good position to make the playoffs. This is where doing so well on the early-February road trip comes in handy. What are the chances of the Hurricanes winning 15 out of 27 games the rest of the way, though? I think most would agree that this team's play has been madly inconsistent this season and that's expected with the injuries Carolina has had to deal with. Something that should give Canes fans some confidence is that their play at even strength has been stronger than the rest of the Southeast. Team GF GA FenClose 5v5 Sh% 5v5 Sv% PP SF/60 PK SA/60 Carolina 63 59 51.66% 9.0% 0.921 46.4 59.1 Winnipeg 55 64 50.93% 8.1% 0.911 39.6 41.5 Tampa Bay 73 67 44.24% 11.1% 0.907 38.5 48.3 Washington 55 59 47.66% 7.6% 0.916 48.2 57.5 Florida 55 82 48.91% 7.1% 0.898 47.2 49.5 Carolina has been a better team when it comes to controlling possession in close games but the Winnipeg Jets are not far behind them so things could get interesting if the Canes regress. They suffered yet another big blow last night with Cam Ward going down with a lower-body injury and if he is out for awhile, it could have a huge effect on how the rest of Carolina's season goes. Despite Ward having a couple of rough outings recently, Carolina's goaltending has been solid at even strength this year and a lot of it has to do with Dan Ellis' .931 save percentage. I still don't think Ellis is that good but he is probably solid enough to start a few games while Ward is out. As for Justin Peters, he is more of a black-box since he didn't perform well in the NHL until last season and even then that was a small sample size. The Hurricanes main weak point is their penalty kill, which is among the worst in the league in goals and shots allowed. It hasn't been an issue the last two games because they had only one penalty kill during then. It will come back to haunt them later if they don't improve. The PK units of every other team in the Southeast have also been pretty bad this year but Carolina's is still the worst in terms of shot prevention.  Another area of slight concern is the Hurricanes 5v5 shooting percentage, which has gotten pretty high over the last few games but I think they are safe from experiencing a decline similar to the one Tampa just had. Carolina is a completely different team than the Lightning and their strong even strength play might be enough to keep them afloat. Goaltending might end up being an issue if Ward is out for awhile and Ellis/Peters struggle as his replacement. To put it briefly, the Hurricanes are in a good position now but they still have plenty of work to do if they want to win the division. The good road trip they had a the beginning of the year along with their recent three-game winning streak means they have to do less than the rest of the Southeast to make the playoffs but they still have a bit of ways to go. Making the most out of the rest of this homestand will be very important. Stats from Behind the Net
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Cam Ward out 6-8 weeks with knee injury

The Carolina Hurricanes say goalie Cam Ward will miss six to eight weeks with a sprained knee ligament. The team announced Ward's diagnosis Monday and said the former All-Star goalie will not require surgery. The team says Ward suffered a third-degree sprain to his medial collateral ligament midway through the second period of Sunday night's 3-2 win at Florida. He hurt...

Hurricanes' Ward out 6-8 weeks

The Carolina Hurricanes say goalie Cam Ward will miss six to eight weeks with a sprained knee ligament. The team announced Ward's diagnosis Monday and said the former All-Star goalie will not require surgery. The team says Ward suffered a third-degree sprain to his medial collateral ligament midway through the second period of Sunday night's 3-2 win at Florida. He hurt...

Ellis must step up in goalie Ward's absence

For a goalie of Cam Ward's stature, there have been some uncomfortable moments this season. Mostly, they have come in terms of Ward's having to fight for his starts something the 29-year-old has not had to do since his rookie season of 2005-06, when he ultimately led the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in the process...

'Canes G Ward out 6-8 weeks with knee injury

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The Carolina Hurricanes say goalie Cam Ward will miss six to eight weeks with a sprained knee ligament. The team announced Ward's diagnosis Monday and said the former All-Star goalie will not require surgery. The team says Ward suffered a third-degree sprain to his medial collateral ligament midway through the second period of Sunday night's 3-2 win...

Video- Cam Ward Injured Tonight

The first part of the video you see Jack Skille of the Panters sliding into Ward, who was slow to get up.  When play started again, Ward stretched a bit to make a save and then went down on his own. Injury appears to be either his back or leg but you can see he was uncomfortable coming off the ice. Dan Ellis who replaced Ward was scheduled to start the game but was ill, so Ward...

Matt Karash: Ward out 6-8 weeks...Need to just keep finding a way

The Canes picked up another 2 points in Florida last night in lackluster game where both teams just looked worn out. But the bigger news heading into today was the status of Cam Ward. He left the game after a Canes defenseman came barreling into him with a Panther in tow. Strange was that he was slow to get up, but after being attended to by trainer Pete Friesen, he stayed in...

Will Cam Ward's injury sink Carolina's season?

Hurricanes fans are fearing the worst right now, as it was announced earlier this morning that their goaltender Cam Ward will miss the next 6-8 weeks with an MCL sprain. Things certainly could have been a lot worse judging from how bad the injury looked when it happened, but at the very least, it's good to know that this isn't anything season-ended or career threatening....

Cam Ward Out 6-8 Weeks

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that goaltender Cam Ward has been diagnosed with a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL). Surgery will not be required for the injury, and he is expected to be out six to eight weeks.

Pick Six: Soreness in the Southeast

Cam Ward and Jose Theodore owners haven’t exactly had it easy this season, even before the news that both goalies would be sidelined for much of what’s left of the fantasy hockey season. But when one door closes, another one opens – unless someone else beat you to the waiver wire for their possible replacements. Regardless, let’s find out how these replacements could shape...

Sabres-Hurricanes Preview

While the Carolina Hurricanes have climbed to the top of the Southeast Division, staying there could prove difficult with their starting goalie sidelined. The Hurricanes try to overcome Cam Ward's absence as they go for a season-best fourth consecutive win and three-game season sweep of the visiting Buffalo Sabres, who are hoping to have Thomas Vanek available Tuesday night...

Improved Prospects For Habs' Road Trip

The schedule makers seemed to be giving the Canadiens a hard time of it this week, calling for five games in eight days, all on the road. But Les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge answered the call Sunday night with a 4-3, come-from-behind win in Beantown. Suddenly, the rest of the week looks quite a bit brighter.   Of the remaining four games, only one is against a team with a winning record...

Weekend Update: Back in Green

photo by: sportsdeke.com Welcome to the Weekend Update. This is the weekly article that keeps you up-to-date on the NHL Standings, provides you with videos from around the world hockey in the week that was, and informs Nashvillians on the televised NHL games in the upcoming week. In this edition Ward stops Ward, another milestone for Selanne, the Green Men are back,...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.