CSN Washington’s Jill Sorenson reported this afternoon that Joel Ward is one of the most popular free agents on the market, according to Joel Ward’s agent Peter Cooney.
Photo: Jared Silber
Brace yourself. This news may make you feel super sad. According to The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, 34-year-old winger Joel Ward appears likely to test the free agent market on July 1st.
Photo credit: Susan Walsh
In the summer of 2011, the Washington Capitals gave Joel Ward a four-year, $12 million contract. The deal was largely based on Ward’s play over 12 games when Ward scored 13 points during Nashville’s run to the second round under Barry Trotz. In the regular season that year, Ward had scored just 10 goals. He was 31-years-old. Some of George McPhee‘s gambles didn’t work out, but this one did.
Photo credit: Nick Wass
Braden Holtby is that good. He has been the best goalie of the playoffs, posting a .951 save percentage through 11 games. But on Sunday night, the New York Rangers offense finally broke through. They jumped out to a 4-1 lead before the Capitals almost pulled off an unbelievable comeback. For the first time this postseason, we saw Holtby crack. Washington’s faith in him, however, is unshaken. They were not interested in talking about Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 42 shots in Washington’s one-goal defeat.
“Our goalie’s better,” Evgeny Kuznetsov, defiant in his postgame media scrum, said. “I don’t know what you want to listen from my mouth, but our goalie’s better.”
The Caps at one point during the third period were down 4-1. Then Evgeny Kuznetsov and Joel Ward scored and made it a game! First, the 22-year-old rookie scored his fifth goal of the playoffs off a broken play in front of the net. He now leads the Caps in goals.
The Washington Capitals may have just been jobbed out of a big goal.
Set up just outside of the crease, Caps forward Joel Ward screened Henrik Lundqvist as Matt Niskanen unleashed a bomb from the point. Then: craziness.
The shot, which was going wide, deflects off a Rangers stick towards the net. Derek Stepan shoves Ward, Ward collides with Lundqvist, and the puck bounces into the net.
Official Kevin Pollock immediately waves the goal off for incidental contact.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
Alex Ovechkin has never made it past the second round of the playoffs. It’s a trite fact, but unavoidable. He’s been in the NHL since 2005, with his window as a primary goal-scorer closing. In 10 years, he has yet to win a Stanley Cup. Some core players around him, like Mike Green, are likely to leave this summer or within the next few years. This may be Ovechkin’s best chance to win a Cup as the undisputed leader of the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin seems to know that. In this year’s Division Final against the Rangers, DC’s captain has put on an astonishing display of talent and dedication, nearly winning games for the Capitals off his play alone. On Saturday, he came up short, but it was another immortal individual performance.
“He’s a force,” coach Barry Trotz said. “No question.”
Midway through the third period, Washington was down 3-1, having just given up a crushing goal to Rangers forward Derick Brassard. Just 90 seconds before Rangers fans were to begin their eight-minute mark “Ovi Sucks! Ovi Sucks! Ovi Sucks!” onslaught, Ovechkin bumbled down the ice with three Rangers on him. He knifed straight through Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, New York’s top defenders, as the two hopelessly whacked at Ovi. Falling to his knees, he let off a perfectly placed wrist shot that went top shelf on Henrik Lundqvist. It was a goal that was nearly impossible to imagine another player in the NHL scoring. It was utter brilliance, under immense pressure, on a huge stage. Save for the cheers of Capitals players, MSG fell silent.
Ward smiling after Derek Stepan tries punching him.
The Washington Capitals won game one at Madison Square Garden in surprisingly easy fashion– though it took a last-second goal to win. The first twenty minutes of game two have been way different.
But I’m an optimist, so let’s focus on the awesome things that happened in the first period first.
Image by me
Thursday night, after tallying the game-winning goal with 1.3 seconds left and becoming the third NHL player ever to score a playoffs GWG with two seconds left, adoring Capitals fans started memeing Ward.