Joel Ward Scores Lucky Goal, Doesn’t Believe in Luck


“Woooo!” (Photo credit: Alex Brandon)

Joel Ward has had a couple of hot streaks in his career. In fact, he’s making $3 million a year partially because of one (13 points in 12 games) during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Nashville Predators. Despite his playoff success, Ward’s recent regular season results have been unimpressive. In his first year with the Caps, we scored just six goals in 73 games. Last year, in a lockout shortened season, he had eight. Eighteen games into the 2013-14 campaign, he’s matched that total.

“When he came here obviously he had a great playoff for Nashville,” head coach Adam Oates said after the game. “When we’ve talked, him and I, I expect him to play now like he does in the playoffs, every night. Now, that’s a playoff game. We need these points.”

When I asked him about his recent success, Ward scoffed. “Last year was a short one so less games!” he said. “Just trying to work hard and find pucks. I was fortunate to get some good bounces.”

Tonight’s goal, plainly, was one of those lucky markers. Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky went to play the puck behind the net on a Jackets power play, only to pass the puck right to the waiting Ward at the bottom of the far circle.

“I don’t use the word luck — I’m not a big fan of it,” he said when asked about his fortunate tally. “But I got a good bounce I’d say.”

Ward credits his recent success in part to the time Oates has given him on the league’s most lethal power play. The 32-year-old’s hot streak started with a couple of man-advantage tallies in mid-October.

“The power play helps to get some opportunities, get a little confidence,” Ward told me. “That’s what the league’s all about.”

“You get a lot of reps in that area, you feel comfy when you’re playing 5-on-5,” he added of his spot on top unit. “It helps anybody.”

Ward’s streak, it’s worth noting, has been part of a larger period of success for the third line — which Oates jokingly referred to as the first after Tuesday’s game — featuring Jason Chimera and Mikhail Grabovski. Members of that group have 13 goals in since the last week of October — 38 percent of Capitals’ total goal output during that span.

“They’ve been clicking together,” Oates said, singling out Ward and Chimera. “They’re both protecting the puck great and waiting for their buddy. Grabo’s figuring them out and darting in and out. They’re big guys that demand a lot of time in the offensive zone. That wears teams out.”

  • Todd N

    great “3rd line” they’re playing great right now…if only the 2nd line can be half as good….looking at you #21…i think it’s time to bring Fehr in and sit Laich..won’t happen..just wishful thinking.

  • Daniel

    still, I think that was a great shot from Wardo. ripped it in one motion, tough angle, the goalie sliding back into the picture.. they woudln’t be my Caps if they scored on that one every time.

  • BaconSkittles

    I’m a huge Laich fan, but I 100% agree that Laich needs to be benched in favor of Fehr.

    Speaking of Fehr; is he getting a raw deal? I know Oates loves his lefty LW and righty RW, but why is Volpatti is on the ice and Fehr gets scratched every night. Oates seems to love Wilson, so I doubt he gets scratched. Heck, maybe even let Fehr play 4C and sit Latta.

    Is this a “We need a Physical 4th Line” thing or am I delusional in thinking Fehr has more talent than everyone on the 4th line?

  • charlie

    i think it was you guys that mentioned this but i would also consider the “3rd line” referenced here to indeed be the “2nd line”

  • Dan

    This is so much fun to watch

  • Barrett

    Grabo’s nickname is slacking a little. We need to think of something better, especially when he’s on a line with the Big Cheese and the Ice Cheetah!

  • DC Hockey Nut

    Cheese, Cheetah, Grabo… it’s the Cheetos Grab Bag line. 😉

  • jp_daddi0

    IIRC, last year I heard some players calling Chimera “ChimDog”, which I am a big fan of.

  • jp_daddi0

    Joe B’s call on that goal was perfection.

  • Troy

    you can’t, though. the third line (Ward, grabo, chimera) is averaging 47:12 of total ice time combined, while the second line (laich, mojo, brouwer) is averaging 54:17 of total ice time combined. It’s like we just don’t want to put our better players on the ice…

  • yv

    Grabo already has one “MiG84”, as a Russian-made famous fighter-planes.

  • Barrett

    Duh, cannot believe I forgot that….I apologize. War room disengaged.

  • Lawrence

    Personally I like what the 4th line brings and wouldn’t change it unless it meant moving Laich down there and swapping wilson up. I would much rather see Laich benched or dare-I-say traded. We need more skill on that second line, Fehr is pretty talented, but sadly I don’t think hes talented enough to carry that 2nd line and would just be a band-aid fix. If we want to keep Brouwer and Mojo in the top 6, we need someone that can move the puck efficiently and is a threat to score. Jojo gets pushed around a little too much, Brouwer gets outskilled/outskated too often, so getting someone that has a little bit of Jojo vision/Brouwer shot, might be the fix that the second line is in need of.

  • SeanL

    Laich still brings a lot of value on the PK. Despite liking the “style” of the 4th line, it would make sense for him to be given a role lower in the line-up just to keep him available to kill penalties. 6 minutes a night of Volpatti is certainly worth keeping Laich available for the PK.

  • yv

    Legendary V. Tretyak, president of Russian hockey federation and curator of Olympic team , was in VC yesterday, watching 5 almost definite candidates on ice. He had nice photoshootings, including with Maria and Ovis farther, and interviews. Would be interesting to read about this.

  • bskillet

    Luck, skill, fortunate bounce, a goal is a goal is a goal. Great job Wardo, I still think Oates has to find a spot for Fehr.

  • David Jeffrey

    It’s not just Brooks Laich. It’s Troy Brouwer as well. I think each of them could play on a top 6 line, but as a compliment and not together. There is just not enough skill or speed with those two playing together.