If you watched Wednesday Night’s broadcast of The Caps and Red Wings, you might have heard Pierre McGuire mention that Tom Wilson was getting a lot of room from the Red Wings. He then mentioned that the Red Wings talked to officials before the game to ask them to pay attention of Tom Wilson. He even added that every team that plays the Capitals talks to the referees and linesmen in the pre-game warmups asking them for the same thing.
Why are teams doing this? Because they do not want Tom Wilson to have carte blanche as the wrecking ball he is. Their hope is that this will force Wilson to restrain himself because he has to be conscious of the officials.
Wilson has become one of the best hitters in the game, and what really scares teams is that his hits are game changers that can make a crowd gasp, at home or away. Wilson does not discriminate on targets either, just ask superstar Jonathan Toews. People are aware whenever Wilson is on the ice and it affects their play as they keep their heads on a swivel, wondering if 43 is nearby. Coach Barry Trotz has put in him in all sorts of situations with different linemates including Alex Ovechkin. This means the opposing teams cannot assume he will be on the fourth line and must watch for him all the time, further disrupting their focus. In addition, placing him with skill players acts as a deterrent to others hitting his skilled linemates, as they must be wary of an enforcing revenge hit from Wilson.
Not only is Tom Wilson a great hitter, he is also a great instigator. In the third period in a game against the Colorado Avalanche, he drew a matching roughing penalties with Jerome Iginla, the future Hall of Fame player. In that situation, with Colorado down a few goals, losing Wilson is a small price to pay to get a great scorer like Iginla off the ice for two minutes. It also is another example of how Tom Wilson makes teams lose focus and their cool.
What has made Wilson better is that he is NOT instigating fights. Instead, with more ice time, he is using his size and speed and hitting to intimidate teams, and only drops the gloves as a last resort. He enforces with his hitting, since most players will not want to get into fights with him.
While he isn’t great at handling the puck or finding the best spots to score, Wilson is a freight train on the ice. Not only does this locomotive punch through opposing players, but this engine helps power the Caps.
By Lincoln Cajulis