Williams no minor loss for 'Canes
The Carolina Hurricanes' season suffered a stunning blow on Friday when the team announced right wing Justin Williams will have reconstructive knee surgery and will be out of action four to six months.
For one, he plays 20 minutes a night, always against opposing teams' top lines, and he logs major minutes on both the power play and penalty kill. Williams is coming off back-to-back 30-goal seasons and hasn't missed a game in nearly three years.
That's makes him a pretty valuable commodity.
After a terrific, 11-4-3 start to the season, Carolina's been on a big time slide, going just 7-11-0 since mid-November and conceding ground to every other team in the Southeast Division. Lately, John Grahame's been getting the starts in goal, and the 'Canes have allowed 12 goals in their last three games.
The good news is that they went 2-1-0.
That's really par for the course, though, as Carolina's been deadly in the goal scoring department this year, sitting fourth in the league in goals per game (3.14) — and Williams has been a part of that. Given the team's already really struggling with its goals against (27th overall at 3.19), it needs his checking presence more than anything.
That said, they're dead last in the NHL right now in penalty killing (76%), so his replacement can't fare much worse in that department.
It's really not going to take much more of a slide for the Hurricanes to fall right out of a playoff position right now, but the good news is that without a single team in their division scoring more goals than they've allowed, that third spot in the Eastern Conference is open for anyone — Washington included.
Welcome to Parityville.
Given Tampa Bay's lost its top defenceman and Carolina's recent struggles, I'd put money on either the Panthers or Thrashers to win that division.
Hurricanes lose game, Williams [red and black hockey]
Black Friday [Canes Country]