-- Ask Cam Ward
to analyze what he does better when he's on top of his game and the Carolina Hurricanes
goalie will give you an answer about the mental part of the game and preparation.
"It's just about being relaxed and not thinking out there," he said. "It's the small details, whether it's helping our [defense] set up the puck properly behind the net. Just doing the small things…
"I think my position, a lot of it has to do with preparation. You have to be ready for anything out there."
The calmness and relaxation that Ward exuded on Tuesday with a broad smile is starting to make him look the way he did during the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy. In Game 2, Ward made 36 saves to help the Hurricanes steal a 3-0 win in Boston on Sunday, tying him for the playoff lead with two shutouts.
He's also fourth in save percentage (.937) and sixth in goals-against average (2.08) in his first playoff appearance since backstopping Carolina to the Cup three years ago.
When it comes to talking about what he does well on the ice, about the only thing Ward mentions is controlling his rebounds. And his emotions.
"He's very consistent in his emotions and he doesn't allow the things in front of him to get at him," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice
Maurice also credited Ward's 2006 accomplishments with helping the 25-year-old through his current task. Maurice said Ward does not need to prove himself, so he can fall back into a comfort zone and find calmness.
Hurricanes center Eric Staal
says Ward's confidence is apparent in his game.
"He's challenging the shooter and he's making the tough save look routine," said Staal, who believes that Ward would have a lot more notoriety if he played in a larger market or a Canadian one.
That was the case in perhaps Boston's best scoring chance on Sunday when Ward made a left pad stop on 27-goal scorer Michael Ryder
, and then followed up with another on Dennis Wideman
"He stopped a 30-goal scorer and made it look easy," Staal said.