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Elliotte Friedman is one of the most connected and respected journalists in hockey. On Friday morning, Friedman released his latest 30 Thoughts article, in which he  expounded on why the Patrick Sharp trade never materialized.

The short answer: Joel Ward.

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Nicklas Backstrom doesn’t go to All-Star Games, receive NHL Awards, or get much attention of any kind. He’s just quietly one of the best players in the league making world-class plays every night.

On Tuesday, the NHL’s leading assist man delivered another juicy apple– this time to Joel Ward during a five-on-three power play. Backstrom, in the corner, fired a perfect cross-ice, cross-crease pass to Ward who one-timed the puck past Marc-Andre Fluery. It would stand as the game-winning goal and Nicky’s 44th assist.

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By the end of Saturday’s game against the Caps, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price hadn’t let in a goal since Tuesday, a shutout streak of 153:03. While Price was unbelievable against Washington, he proved the old adage that you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good.

During the second period, the Caps rang the pipe three times, including twice in a span of 16 seconds. Joel Ward hit it first just 56 seconds into the period. Then, during a power play, Evgeny Kuznetsov sent a cross-crease pass to Alex Ovechkin who clanged a one-timer off the right post. Immediately after that, John Carlson would ring a shot off the left post.

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Photoshop by Ian Oland

While the Capitals and Red Wings were busy boring a mostly full Verizon Center, a sporting contest of greater import was taking place in the Boston suburbs. With a spot in the AFC Championship Game on the line, the 2013 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens took a 28-14 lead on the New England Patriots. With five minutes left in the game, however, Tom Brady threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to give New England a 35-31 lead and send the entire state of Maryland into Old Bay-seasoned tears.

After the Capitals’ 3-1 victory over Detroit, I caught up with Joel Ward, a massive Ravens fan. Though Ward scored in Washington’s 22nd victory this year, he become downtrodden when I brought up the game.

“I knew they were going to be tough,” Ward said. “I saw that they were up by a couple scores earlier on. Foxboro is a tough building. I can only imagine how they are feeling right now because it was such a battle with what they accomplished. I think a lot of people counted them out early on.”

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Heeeey, girl. (Photos: Katie Brown)

When I think of the Winter Classic, I think of hockey, snow, and my favorite pastime returning to its roots. Monday afternoon, District Sports Page’s Katie Brown discovered newly installed advertisements at the Navy Yard Metro stop, and it appears Reebok has a much more liberal idea of what the Winter Classic means.

Featuring hockey player models Joel Ward and Marian Hossa, Reebok tells (or potentially warns) us that Winter Is Coming. We then find The Big Cheese sitting half naked in a slushy lake and hauling a giant tree up a mountain. Yes, for those of you who have always thought that the NHL needed to more closely associate itself with lumberjacks, you’ve gotten your wish.

This whole thing is strange and odd, especially considering the players they chose to feature.

Anyways, below are all of Katie’s shots. Follow her here. They are a wonder AND a delight.

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On Tuesday night, as EPIX’s The Road To The Winter Classic began, the Caps began what became the longest shootout in NHL history. The scheduling conflict forced fans to make a difficult decision: reality TV or live hockey. For those who stuck with the live hockey, they got a shootout that went a record twenty rounds, five more than the previous record, which also belonged to the Caps. Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin actually shot twice in the losing effort.

Karl Alzner, Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Tom Wilson all got their first career shootout attempts in the same game.

With all the wackiness on the ice and the game determined not to end, the Caps turned to a late-game baseball tradition to influence the outcome: rally helmets.

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The Curious Case of Joel Ward

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Most NHL players make their NHL debut between ages 20-22. and hit their peak point production around age 25.

And then we have Joel Ward.

Ward played his first full NHL season at the ripe age of 28 and has been most productive during his age-33 and -34 seasons. I’ve written before that Ward’s rise in production isn’t sustainable. I’m still not convinced it is fully, but I’m less skeptical than I used to be. What Ward is doing now, namely crashing the net, might be behind the late bloom.

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Caps Team Build, Jenga-Style

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Photo: @WashCaps

Recently, Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz broke up the highly-successful “twins” duo of Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. Now, Ward is playing on the third line with Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr. Building good chemistry takes a lot of practice on the ice. But off of it, it appears Trotz is taking team building literally.

After practice, Ward, Laich, and Fehr were stacked on a cart like Lincoln logs and pushed back to the locker room.

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Last night, TSN Insider’s Trading panel discussed a number of topics, including the Oilers’ shortcomings, Jay Feaster’s Twitter jab, and a potential re-tool in Arizona. They also talked about Caps general manager Brian MacLellan, whose patience with the team is allegedly running thin.

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Photo: @a0gr8

The Washington Capitals are out in Phoenix ahead of their game with the Coyotes on Tuesday. And our mustachioed heroes have made the most of their off day. Alex Ovechkin put on his favorite Vladimir Putin t-shirt and took a selfie with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov. I’m pretty sure that shirt is honoring Putin and making him look like a action movie star, which, uh, yeah.

Other Caps players actually made it out of the hotel rooms.

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