Monday's Notes: Joel Ward only the latest Smashville hero

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 7: Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks stops Joel Ward #29 of the Nashville Predators during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 07, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Heading into tonight's Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena, Joel Ward is the talk of the NHL. His standout effort in Game 5 has him tied for the league lead in playoff goal-scoring, which, when combined with the tale of his unconventional road to the top, makes for a compelling story. But Joel's just the latest in a growing list of playoff heroes for this Nashville Predators team this spring, joining the likes of Pekka Rinne, Mike Fisher, Jordin Tootoo, Matt Halischuk, and Jerred Smithson.

Each playoff game presents the chance to grab the spotlight; so who's going to step up tonight? Ponder that while reading this morning's hockey news...

Nashville Predators News

Preds On The Glass: Joel Ward Speaks At The Nashville Airport (Original Video)
Buddy has footage of Nashville's latest playoff hero.

Preds fans come out in droves to welcome their team home… | Section 303
Jeremy shares some footage from the big rally at the airport yesterday.

Red Light District: Resilient Predators different from years past
This edition of the team has shown much stronger resistance to playoff adversity than we've seen before.

What’s Left of the WCS: Character Counts | The Hockey Writers
Jas celebrates the backbone which is perhaps the Preds' greatest strength as a team.

Preds Legwand and Ward, Stepping Up When It Counts Most - Predlines
While those two got the goals, it took an entire team effort to pull out the Game 5 win.

Kelsey Wilson Scores In OT, Admirals Force Game 7 | Admirals Roundtable
Sutty shares impressions of Milwaukee's big win yesterday.

For Admirals, with success comes superstition - JSOnline
When things are going well, players are hesitant to change anything, anything at all.

Joel Ward is living proof of the power of dreams - The Globe and Mail
A game like Wardo had Saturday draws attention to his improbable road to the NHL.

Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks each face injury problems - The Tennessean
By this point, attrition starts to become a factor in the playoffs.

Stanley Cup playoffs: How far will the Nashville Predators take its significant postseason run? - ESPN
Even Scott Burnside was there at the airport yesterday...

Around the NHL

Superman Ryan Kesler needs sidekicks to step up - The Globe and Mail
Yes, Kesler's been outstanding in this series, but that's been balanced out by the disappearing Sedins.

Motoring Back to Motown: Wings 4 - Sharks 3 (Sharks lead 3-2) - Winging It In Motown
Are the Sharks in danger of crumbling? That's two straight closing chances they've blown.

Video: Joe Thornton’s Best Actor nomination for Game 5 dive - Puck Daddy
Finally, someone gets called for embellishing, as Joe Thornton took a disgraceful flop to draw a call.

Why Sean Avery’s endorsement of gay marriage is important - Puck Daddy
He may be a jerk on the ice, but I'm applauding Sean Avery for taking a public stand here. If there's an issue about which a player with a public platform feels strongly, I have no problem with them speaking out.

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