NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers is checked to the ice in the second period by Joel Ward #42 of the Washington Capitals in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
There might not be a player on the Washington Capitals (let alone the entire NHL) that has endured indescribable highs and excruciating lows this postseason like Joel Ward.
Two weeks ago, Ward scored arguably one of the biggest goals in franchise history when his goal propelled the Caps into the Eastern Conference Semifinals in a 2-1 overtime Game 7 road win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. Conversely, it was Ward's double-minor penalty that allowed the New York Rangers to erase a one-goal deficit with less than 10 seconds left before winning in overtime in a 3-2 victory.
"It's been up and down pretty fast," he said with a smile after the Caps finished their morning skate Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
"It was just a hard-working accident is what it was," Matt Hendricks said of Ward's penalty Monday. "If it wasn't for Wardo, we wouldn't be where we are right now anyway. These things happen. It could happen to anybody in this room. I'm sure he feels down a little bit, but no one in the room looks at him as making a mistake."
It is quite possible that no one has ever transformed from a playoff hero into a playoff pariah as quickly as Ward, but with a "do-or-die" Game 6 Wednesday at Verizon Center, he knows that he can change that perception just as fast.
"I get a chance to redeem myself," he said. "I look forward to the challenge and helping the team win."