Joel Ward, who finished Sunday’s game with a goal and an assist and leads the Capitals in goals this season, talked about what’s changed, if anything, from his game last year: “Once your linemates kind of have a good trust in you, I think things tend to flow a little bit easier. I played with Chimmer before, last year too, for a little bit. And we had a little bit of a connection at the start, then. I think it’s just being out there, being confident, and knowing that people got your back–and I think once that happens, you can kind of relieve a little bit of pressure off yourself and just go out there and work hard and have fun.”
Following Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, Ward and Jason Chimera have shared a line on the stat sheet together for slightly over 25% of the Capitals’ goals this season; they actually started out last season in a similar fashion, sharing a line on the stats sheet twice over the first two games. Of course, that was two head coaches and over a year and several months ago. But Ward’s last point of the 2011-2012 season came in the playoffs when he and Chimera assisted on a Nicklas Backstrom score.
“I thought Mike Ribeiro’s line [Chimera, Ward] gives a lot of energy, they scored a big goal for us,” Capitals head coach Adam Oates said Sunday.
It will be interesting to see if Oates stays with this line, since what’s not broke doesn’t seem like the first thing to tinker with at 1-3-1. Ribeiro, meanwhile, leads the Capitals overall in points, adding two to that total Sunday.
“His patience is unbelievable,” Ward says of his linemate.