Deep breaths, everybody. Just let the puns wash over you.
For a man who once got stuck in a bathroom, Joel Ward‘s season was anything but poop. Ward somehow managed to wash away the crap that made other Caps stink this season. What we got from Wardo instead was an unlikely career-best season, and I’m not just polishing a you-kn0w-what here.
(Okay, I’m done. That was awful. I am sorry.)
|15.7||Average time on ice per game|
|47.4%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|54.5%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
|10.3%||On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5|
|92.4%||On-ice saving percentage during 5v5|
I was skeptical when Joel Ward got paired up with Jason Chimera at the beginning of the season. They seemed to me to be too similar to be complementary. I was wrong. While they didn’t drive possession, Chimera, Ward, and whichever Spinal Tap drummer took their faceoffs were by far the best thing the Caps had going during 5v5 this year. Looking back, I guess it makes sense. Ward is an excellent player in the corners, and Chimera’s got wheels, so as a pair they made a lot of sense playing a dump-and-chase style. It worked, and that’s all that matters.
Or maybe mattered is the better word choice. There’s reason to suspect Ward wouldn’t be able to match that level of output next season. The 7 percent gap between possession and production is the first and biggest hint of that. While those 35 points during 5v5 are laudable, without steadily outshooting opponents Ward won’t be able to fend off regression. Ward’s shooting percentage was 18 percent this season (14.7 during 5v5), but he’s spent as many seasons under 10 percent as over, so it might be unwise to think he’ll keep the hot stick individually as well.
I don’t wanna take anything away from Ward, who’s a likable and steady player (and underrated on the PP if you ask me), but I think it’s important to frame his success this season soberly. The Chimera-Ward line worked their asses off to make 5v5 play bearable for Caps fans, and they managed to generate dangerous shots at an unlikely rate. But a player coming off a career year with one year at three million left on his contract is an attractive bargaining chip, and if the Caps are truly “refreshing,” they should consider moving Joel Ward.
Here’s some of that underrated PP action I was talking about, although I’m pretty sure your grandma coulda scored here too.
What was it about Wardo’s play that gave him his best season ever? Can he do it again? Am I a total sad sack for saying he’s an attractive trade chip? It’s not like I don’t love him. I love him. You do too, right?
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