Although it’s only a preseason matchup, Capitals winger Joel Ward said he’s excited about facing his former teammates tonight at Bridgestone Arena, the building he called home the previous three seasons.
“It’s going to be something a little different,” said Ward, who did not face the Predators in Baltimore last week. “It should be fun. Just looking forward to it. But glad it’s an exhibition game and I can get the nerves out of my legs.”
Ward is set to play on the right side of the top line alongside center Nicklas Backstrom and left wing Alexander Semin. (Speaking of Semin, he’s been doing a lot more speaking — in English — the past few weeks. Keep an eye out for a story I wrote for tomorrow’s paper on the subject.)
As for Ward, it’s the second time this preseason Coach Bruce Boudreau has put him opposite an elite winger. Against Chicago, the 6 foot 2, 218-pound right-hand shot played on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson and redirected an Ovechkin shot into the net for his only goal of the preseason.
It’s “definitely an opportunity,” Ward said of playing with Backstrom and Semin. “I’m going to try to get out there and work hard, get them pucks and let them do their thing. I just need to go to the net and look to get open for shots and rebounds and try to establish a net presence in front.”
The last time Ward played at Bridgestone Arena, the 30-year-old was in the midst of a career-defining playoff run. He notched seven goals and six assists in 12 playoff games, helping the Predators push Vancouver to a sixth game in the Western Conference semifinals.
That postseason performance helped Ward score the four-year, $12 million contract he signed with Washington only hours after the opening of free agency on July 1.