Aaron Schoonmaker

Ellis making decisions tough for Muller

Posted February 1, 2013
Updated February 2, 2013

— It would be foolish to think that there is a goalie controversy in Carolina. Then again, Dan Ellis has been making a case to usurp incumbent Cam Ward altogether as the Hurricanes’ go-to netminder.

Turning away 33 shots in a 1-0 shutout of the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators Friday night, Ellis instantly forced Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller into a decision. When asked following the game if Ellis would be in line to start Saturday’s game at Philadelphia, Muller responded, “I don’t know. We’ll see how he’s feeling and make a decision on the plane.” Ellis, Canes blank Ottawa 1-0 Slideshow: Ellis, Canes blank Ottawa 1-0

While many of the Senators' shots Friday were from distance and posed little realistic threat, Ellis did exactly what he was supposed to and prevented rebounds. On the scoring chances that Ottawa did generate, Ellis was sharp.

In fairness, Ellis was the beneficiary of the best team defense the Canes have played all year Friday night. He faced only five shots on Ottawa power plays and made just one save with the Senators pushing short-handed. Regardless, he got it done between the pipes at every turn in every way.

Two of Ellis’ saves went off his facemask. He favored his glove, but was keen with his blocker twice on short-side scoring chances. He didn’t mishandle any pucks when called on to make a play either.

“He looks very confident,” Muller said. “Like any athlete in pro sports, when you get an opportunity, you have to advantage of it.” 

You can blame the slow start for Ward on rust and say, ‘he’ll find it,’ but the season is not that long.

After all, Ellis is literally in midseason form having played 18 games with the Charlotte Checkers before the NHL season got going. That’s where he has the advantage physically and mentally.

“I think those games early on playing in the American League gave me a chance to find my own game and stay fresh,” Ellis said. “It’s difficult to catch a moving train kind of. The season starting with no exhibition games, I think those games in Charlotte was a great blessing for me.”

Dan Ellis Medlin: Ellis notches shutout, Canes even record

The body of work in the first six games tells the story for the two goaltenders.

Ellis has stopped 85 of 87 shots he has faced in eight periods of play – a .977 save percentage which is good enough for second best in the NHL. Ward meanwhile, has surrendered 15 goals on 108 shots – a .861 save percentage.  Carolina Hurricanes Logo Carolina Hurricanes schedule

In the season-opener against Florida, Ellis came to the relief of Ward after just 20 minutes. He surrendered one in the next 40. In his first start, a road challenge at Buffalo, the 32-year-old Ellis stopped 40 of 41 shots. 

The 28-year-old Ward has given up four goals in three of his four starts. He gave up three in his other.

No matter who starts Saturday, you can bet Ellis will be getting more nods from Muller so long as he has the hot hand.




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  • 321oohaw Feb 2, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Sorry...we missed your babble, what did u say?

  • ohheels1 Feb 2, 2013

    I've always been a Cam Ward fan, however it does appear the defense works just a little harder with Ellis in goal...He has been making phenomenal saves and deserves to be in the net~

  • StunGunn Feb 2, 2013

    I'll never forget all Cam has done for the Canes, and I think he's left out to dry far too often, but you can't ignore how good Ellis is. Muller has to go with the goalie who gives the Canes the best chance to win, and that may just be Ellis.

  • JPack Feb 2, 2013

    View quoted thread

    My apologies... Tried to type "doesn't". Not does. Hate typing on iPads! No, I agree with you, Ellis is the man right now. Unfortunately, one typo changed the entire meaning of my post.

  • jbengel Feb 2, 2013

    "Goaltender controversy" is probably the most overused phrase in the media. Most coaches will tell you this is a GREAT problem to have. It's not that complicated -- Ellis played during the lockout, Ward didn't. Muller needs to treat this the way he would if Ward was rehabbing an injury (which, in a way, isn't so far off what's actually happening). Ellis will see more ice time than most of Ward's backups, but considering the number of starts Ward's gotten over the last several years, that's not all that hard to do.

    The media may try to fabricate a "controversy" here, because that's what they do. It's a contractual obligation they have to second guess coaches or something. And all too often they're helped in that effort by the starter who's struggling. I don't see that happening with Cam Ward; he's just not that kind of player. If he wants more ice, he'll do the work he needs to do to get it. And I suspect he'll get the start tonight. It's the second half of a back-to-back with a grueling stretch of games coming up over the next week. It's just smart to not overwork one guy in those situations, and Muller is a pretty smart guy.

  • bubbba Feb 2, 2013

    Not trying to take a shot at southern markets here, but it is a good place for goalies (and players) to hide behind pre-established, generally accepted standards. Ward was a backup in 2005-06 and was thrown into the playoffs after starter Martin Gerber struggled against Montreal in Round 1. Ward and the Canes won the Cup that year and he’s been considered a top 10, or even top five by some, goalie ever since. Elite. He’s never won any individual awards and his save percentages have been mostly middle of the road for a starter

  • tplatania Feb 2, 2013

    The Canes have been hung up with Ward since the Stanley Cup win. Currently, he is overpriced and typically ranks in the 20-30th ranked for GPG and Goals per shots on net %. That falls back on Rutherford who thinks he is a franchise player??? Go with Ellis and stay with Ellis. He is hot and there are only 34 games left. Ward is out of shape and not fit to goal tend right now. He laid back and did not play in Europe like other goalies did during strike.If he plays tonight one thing is guaranteed....he will give up a goal in the first 3-5 minutes which has now become a ritual! Expect him back. He is Rutherford's big money mistake not Mueller's.

  • gmht1989 Feb 2, 2013

    you gotta go with Ellis. I love cam as much as anyone. the Stanley Cup was a long time ago. you gotta go with who's best right now. numbers don't lie.

  • kkevin7048 Feb 2, 2013

    Dan is the Man ! It's so easy a caveman could figure out who should start every night.

  • Ohprah Feb 2, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Yes, when the #1 goalie in the league does well it is because of great defense. But when the #50 goalie doesn't do well it is because of poor defense.
    And yes, let's trade our #1 goalie and keep our #50.
    That makes perfect sense to me IF YOU DON'T WANT TO WIN.




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