The Blackhawks were badly in need of a serviceable backup goaltender for the 2018-19 season. after Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass did their best swiss cheese impression in 2017-18. So Stan Bowman went out and signed Cam Ward. After which, the Blackhawks were still badly in need of a serviceable backup goaltender for the 2018-19 season. Let’s do this!
33 GP – .897 SV% – 3.67 GAA
.912 SV% at Evens – .793 SV% on the PK
It Comes With a Free Frogurt
If he had actually come with a free Frogurt, that would’ve been the number one most positive thing about Cam Ward’s stint with the Blackhawks in 2018-19. For someone whose now been through 14 NHL seasons and is 35 years old, expecting anything other than backup level production would’ve been foolhardy, but Ward did have his moments, I suppose. He carried a good load of the play for the Hawks when Crawford was out, although maybe he shouldn’t have. He stole a few games here and there. But really, trying to project Ward as much more than a disappointment this year would be pretty tough to do.
At the very least, Ward managed to have a .919 SV% at 5v5 play (the above Evens number is all even strength situations), which was better than even Corey Crawford‘s mark of .916. So when the game was being played as intended, he was fine, but you would still hope to see a little better for a team that had playoff hopes, or at least wanted you to think they did. And again, he kept this team in some games and even stole them a win or three, with three 40+ save efforts in wins during February. So it wasn’t all bad. But, it was more bad than good. Let’s get there already.
The Frogurt is Also Cursed
If I wasn’t following a theme, that would’ve said “Mostly Cursed,” but alas I am a team player. The first problem with Ward was not even one of his own fault or doing, and that was that he had an NMC in his deal, which meant the Hawks were stuck with him all season long regardless of how it worked out. Even if this season went to shit, which there plenty of times when it seemed like it would/could, they didn’t even have the chance to see if some contender in need of goalie help down the stretch would give up a pick for Ward. Not that mid- or late-round picks in the NHL are worth much, but certainly more than a bad goalie on your roster for no reason. Yet here we are, still having to talk about him because he was here all year for no reason.
On top of that, Ward’s play was just mostly underwhelming even knowing that expecting much more than replacement level was a fool’s errand. He couldn’t even break .900 on his total SV% on the year. That was big time tanked by his atrocious play on the penalty kill, which was certainly not helped by the Blackhawks atrocious penalty killing units, but to be below .800 there is just embarrassing as well. No one has a good save percentage on the PK, but to be that bad is inexcusable even with the bad PK.
Ward is also the king of soft goals, and I shit you not it felt like almost half of the goals I watched him give up this year were ones he should’ve had. He just didn’t play angles very well, and his movement is certainly not natural anymore given that he’s up there in age (for athletes) and has a lot of mileage on him already. But he clearly didn’t have it anymore, and it showed most of the year. Even as someone who was in favor of the Hawks finishing out of the playoffs to have a shot at the lottery (and I’ve been validated, bitches), it’s hard not to wonder if the Hawks could’ve been playing hockey these last two weeks if they’d had a better backup playing than Ward. But we will get to that tomorrow.
Alas, Cam Ward is gone. May we never deal with him again, and may we drink to forget we dealt with him at all.