Ward SidelinedPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Prior to tonight’s game with Winnipeg at Verizon Center, the Caps announced that right wing Joel Ward is day-to-day with a lower body injury. He did not suit up for the game against the Jets, just the third game he has missed this season. While watching last night’s Caps-Flyers game from the press box in Philadelphia, I noted to those sitting around me that Ward blocked a shot with what looked like the outside of his left ankle in the first period. He limped briefly, stayed in the game, and ended up skating 13:22 on the night, which is a shade more than the 12:28 he has averaged this season. Ward was not credited with a blocked shot in the Philly game, for what it’s worth. Hopefully, Ward’s injury is not too serious and he’ll be healthy and back in the lineup soon. Fans and media have been quick to turn on him, citing his four-year, $12-million contract and his seeming lack of production (six goals, 12 assists for 18 points) as reasons to be down on him. What’s underlying is the fact that Ward is not being deployed like he was in Nashville last season when he finished with 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points. Last season, Ward scored five of his 10 goals on the power play for the Predators. He averaged 17:04 per night, fourth most among all Nashville forwards and his 13:41 in even-strength ice time was sixth among all Predators forwards. Ward also averaged 1:30 in power-play ice time per night for Nashville in 2010-11. Fast forward to 2011-12 in Washington, Ward is 10th on the team in time in ice per game at 12:27 and 10th in even-strength time at 11:40 a night. He has averaged just eight seconds per game in power play time, where he scored half of his 10 goals last season. All six of Ward’s 2011-12 goals have been scored at even-strength, during 840 minutes and 46 seconds of even-strength ice time. Last season, he scored five even-strength goals in 1,094 minutes and 57 seconds of even-strength ice time.
As a team that endured perhaps the worst of several bad beats this season just the night before in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg jets, the Washington Capitals awoke on a gray and dreary Saturday in need of some good news. That good news came in the form of center Nicklas Backstrom practicing