Capitals pick up second straight win
It was an hour after practice on Monday and Joel Ward noticed a crowd had formed around the locker stall of linemate Jason Chimera.
Ward asked teammate Brooks Laich why Chimera was getting so much attention from the media and was informed he was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for registering two goals and four assists in games against the Canucks, Flyers and Panthers.
“What?” Ward yelled in mock disbelief. “I’ll be damned! How do they vote on that? I had a pretty good week!”
Ward picked up his first career hat trick in Friday night’s 7-0 win in Philadelphia, giving the line of Chimera, Ward and center Mikhail Grabovski 11 goals and 12 assists in the seven games they’ve played together since being united against Columbus on Oct. 19.
“I would say that lately, Grabo has now had some time in the system and the other two guys have been together for a long time,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “They have some confidence going. They’re feeling good about each other; they know where each other is at all times. When you get a couple goals to go in you feel good and then the chemistry starting gelling.”
Last season was a struggle for Chimera. After netting a career-high 20 goals in 2011-12, he managed just three goals and was a minus-5 in 47 games. At 33 years old, some wondered if he had lost his scoring touch.
Now the oldest player on the Caps roster at 34, Chimera has answered his critics with five goals and 11 points in his first 14 games.
Asked if it’s more fun to come to the rink when he’s scoring, Chimera said, “It’s fun when you win. We were playing well on the road, but it doesn’t feel too good when you lose. It’s better to contribute and win then contributing when you lose.”
In the seven games before Oates dropped Grabovski onto the third line, Chimera had one goal, one assist and was a minus-3. Ward had one goal, two assists and was a minus-2.
In the seven games since then, Chimera has four goals, five assists and is a plus-5; while Ward has five goals, two assists and is a plus-3.
“I’ve known Wardo for a couple years now and Grabo can get the puck up the ice for us,” Chimera said. “It’s a good line and hopefully it keeps going. When you’re going well you don’t want to be split up.”
In addition to playing on a line with Grabovski, Chimera and Ward have been paired together on the Caps’ second wave of penalty killers, which ranks second in the NHL and went eight straight games without allowing a power-play goal.
Chimera said he took special pride in assisting on all three of Ward’s goals Friday night in the rout over Philadelphia.
“I’ve been around a long time and I’ve never been a part of a hat trick where I get assists on all three,” Chimera said. “It’s fun to be a part of that.”
As for Ward getting snubbed without a Star of the Week, Chimera said he's hoping that news release is just a week away,
"It would be nice to go around the horn every week and have a guy on our line keep winning one," Chimera said.