No. 3: The Chicago Blackhawks feed off of Cam Ward
Ward entered this game with a 4.41 GAA, which isn’t great. Considering that, this number deserves to be significantly lower given how poorly the defense has played in front of him.
Against the St. Louis Blues Ward made more than a few great saves to keep it close. For example, his toe stop on Blaise in the 2nd period kept the Blues at 0.
He was seeing the puck well, and his first goal against in the game came while being screened as Jordan Schmaltz set it up beautifully.
Not a bad goal to give up by any means.
Chicago’s third line was generating offense by putting pucks on net and lifting some of the burden of the defensive lines. Both Jake Allen and Cam Ward looked solid in net. Chicago was up 2-1 entering the third, with 39 shots on goal to St. Louis’s 21.
And then what happened?
The momentum Chicago had built during two periods of puck possession, tempo setting and steady goal tending was lost.
This is the crux of the frustration with Ward right now. He was consistent in net and the offense in front of him kept the puck away from the zone for 2 periods.
Manning and Ward were clearly not on the same page and this mistake turned the tide for Chicago and immediately put them on their heels. Communication is huge when playing the puck behind the net and I guarantee you that this is worked on at practice this week.
Ward’s performance was reflective of the team’s performance. When he made a mistake, the team floundered. When he made a big save, the forwards generated more shots on goal.
He had a big save on a Barbashev turnover in the third to keep the game tied. He stayed mobile and moved from post to post beautifully to stop several scoring chances. He also looked great during early St. Louis power plays, before the 3rd period breakdown.
Ward started off very solid and wasn’t tested too much early in the game. The offense generated by the forwards helped bail out the D-lines, in turn giving the goalie a lighter load.