|Rush forward Ryan Ward looks for a loose ball with Colorado's Gavin Prout on his tail during a game in Edmonton last January. (Perry Nelson/QMI Agency/Files)
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Rush may not be a superstitious bunch, but they certainly continue to ward off losses in the playoffs.
And a boost of offensive production of 35 goals — compared to 14 allowed — in two games so far in the 2012 post-season has all but sent opponents running to the nearest psych ward.
But it is forward Ryan Ward who has become the warden of the club’s playoff stats sheet, currently sitting as the team’s all-time post-season points leader with 33 in four games.
“I’ve been feeling good. I wasn’t (last Saturday) actually until I got hit in the head,” said Ward, who took an elbow from Minnesota defender Joe Cinosky that resulted in a major penalty. “And then for some reason it flipped a switch and I got back engaged.
“I was kind of just floating around before.”
Which is almost a brief synopsis of Edmonton season following a 2-7 start to the season before getting on the winning track.
“It’s fun to play right now,” said Ward, who is playing in his ninth NLL season and fifth playoff run. “A couple months ago when everyone was dogging us, we knew we had the team, we just had to come together and get that chemistry.”
Ward scored a franchise high five goals and 11 points against Calgary before adding four goals and seven more points last week against his hometown Minnesota Swarm.
Combine those totals with three goals and 12 assists from the 2010 playoff run, when the Rush finished an overtime goal shy of hosting the Champions Cup.
“It’s not intentionally, that’s for sure,” Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan said of Ward’s playoff productivity. “We’re trying to play team offence and he’s bought into that, as he always has.
“It’s just at this time he’s had the hot stick and he’s also helping others put the ball in the net.”
While he leads in playoff stats, Ward finished the regular season tied for third on the team with 19 goals and second with 38 assists — a far cry from the 74 points he earned in 2010 in his first year in Edmonton.
But prior to joining the Rush, Ward had a combined nine playoff points in three games.
“We challenged him prior to playoffs to be that leader on the right side and he’s done that,” Keenan said. “It’s not like we’re designing plays for Ryan Ward or anything like that.
“He’s benefiting from solid team offence more than anything. He’s shooting the ball extremely well and making plays.”
The Rush are making their first Champions Cup appearance Saturday (5:30 p.m., NLL Network online and CBS Sports Network) against the Rochester Knighthawks at the Blue Cross Arena.