Capitals forward Joel Ward considers himself a connoisseur of defensive play. Those two goals in the season-opener at Tampa Bay on Saturday night aside, it’s really how he makes his living in the NHL. So it’s no surprise that Ward – cover your ears Redskins fans – has long gravitated to the Baltimore Ravens. He’d never been to the city. But he appreciated the swagger Baltimore’s football team has long played with, epitomized by star middle linebacker Ray Lewis. By happenstance, Ward chose to sign with Washington in the summer of 2011 and suddenly found himself just down the road from his favorite football team. The past two years he’s attended six or seven games in person at M&T Bank Stadium.
Ward has an oddly precise prediction for the Super Bowl next month between the Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. He’s calling for a 24-14 Baltimore victory with two interceptions by star safety Ed Reed, including one for a touchdown, and a game MVP award. And with a trip to New Orleans out of the question, Ward knows exactly where he’ll be on Super Bowl Sunday.
“I like to watch it at home,” Ward said. “I don’t want to talk about good restaurants in D.C., I don’t want to go to the bar where people are coming up to you. You just want to watch.”
Ward joked that he’s usually parked in front of the TV decked “head to toe” in Ravens gear. Last weekend he watched at a neighbor’s place and tweeted about the game early and often from his Twitter account. He’ll have no trouble watching the Super Bowl, which is set for Feb. 3. The Caps host the Pittsburgh Penguins that day at 12:30 p.m. in a nationally televised game and will be done in plenty of time to get home for the big game.
The Ravens win left a bit of a frost in the Washington locker room at Kettler Iceplex. Ward previously sat next to Brooks Laich, a player often in demand for media interviews, in the back corner of the room. Getting boxed out of his stall became annoying enough that he requested a switch this season. Now, he’s in the middle of the room on the right next to a row of defensemen. The guy next to him: John Carlson, notorious Patriots fan.
“John Carlson didn’t really return my phone calls after a while so I figured he was pretty disappointed. That’s the way the cookie crumbles,” Ward said about the aftermath of Sunday’s victory. “It was a good game. It was good for the troops to get to the Super Bowl. You know what some of the guys have battled in their personal lives, I thought that was pretty big and good to see. Happy for the city of Baltimore.”
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