Tuesday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun published a feature on former Capitals Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward. Both players were a part of the Washington team that lost to the New York Rangers in Game Seven last season, and both players departed in the offseason. Brouwer was traded to the St. Louis Blues for TJ Oshie. Ward signed with the San Jose Sharks after the Capitals inked Justin Williams to a two-year deal.
Earlier this week, Ward and Brouwer addressed their former team’s flame-out in the second round.
“The Caps ran into a really good team in Pittsburgh,” Brouwer said to LeBrun. “There’s no bad teams left. Talking to a couple of guys in the [Capitals] organization, they hadn’t played too many meaningful games down the stretch and maybe that was something that hurt them. While for both [the Blues] and Joel [and the Sharks], we’ve been fighting hard right to the end, so we were in playoff mode right when the playoffs started and even before the playoffs started.”
Ward, who admitted he was “pulling” for his former team, chalked the Caps latest playoff loss up to “a lot of parity” in the league. Monday, General Manager Brian MacLellan lamented that Ward was “the kind of guy we needed in the playoffs.”
Now in an odd twist, the former teammates are playing each other and the stakes are high: a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
“He sent me a note saying, ‘Good luck,'” Ward said to LeBrun. “It’s kind of my first time really playing against somebody that, I mean … I had a chance to play with him four years straight and consider him a good buddy. During the regular season, if we’re playing each other, we’ll go for dinner or whatnot. But now, it’s a little different. We’re all here to compete, we’re all here for the same reason.”
“Obviously, he’s not going to let up on me as much as I asked him to. But that’s just the way it goes.”
“Me and Wardo, we still talk quite a bit,” Brouwer said. “My wife and his girlfriend chat all the time. It’s always difficult going up against old friends. But you have to put that aside and know it’s business. It’s always got a weird feeling to it when you play old teammates and really good friends. As the series goes on, we’ll see a lot more of each other, and I’m sure there will be a couple of more battles, but it’s always a good time.”
Except for Tuesday.
When you remember it's only Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/rMM0kbmdca
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) May 18, 2016
Through two games, the Sharks and and Blues are tied one game a piece. Brouwer has been huge for the Blues in the playoffs, tallying five goals and 10 points in 16 games — that includes a goal in both Game Sevens St. Louis has played in. Ward, who has always been money in the playoffs, has 7 points in 14 games with the Sharks, including a Game Seven goal against the Nashville Predators in Round Two.
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