Tom Wilson: Hero in Washington, Villain in Toronto


Photo: @Capitals

Tom Wilson was a big factor in both of the Capitals wins so far in this first round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The bottom six forward is usually known for his bone crushing hits and fights, but lately he has been lighting up the score sheet as well. A native of Toronto and one of the biggest pieces of this Capitals team, Wilson is embracing his role as the villain as his Caps look to defeat the team he grew up rooting for. 

Perhaps it was this quote that outspoken Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said, prior to the series, that fueled his fire. After all, he did tell reporters after his Game 1 overtime heroics that “I am on Twitter.”

In Game 1, Wilson scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Perhaps Babcock had overlooked him a bit.

During practice today, Wilson learned that he had been switched from his usual spot on the fourth line to the third line. Perhaps the confidence that Barry Trotz instilled in him gave him extra motivation to be a big factor during the Caps’ all-important Game 4. Not that he needed any extra, already playing in his hometown, in front of his friends and family.

In the first period hanging on to a 2-1 lead, the Maple Leafs got a good look on the net. Braden Holtby wasn’t in position to stop the puck but Wilson laid out in front of the net to keep the puck from going through then he hustled to the other side of the ice and parked himself in front left side of the net. Lars Eller came around the net, turned around, shot the puck and Wilson deflected it in. The goal was initially credited to Eller but later would be switched to Wilson.

Later in the period, the #CapsRoomies connected. Andre Burakovsky got the puck in the neutral zone and came in, found his bro, and Wilson buried it in.

There were several reasons the Capitals won Game 4 tonight. Some will later point to staving off a 5-on-3 penalty to start the third. Others will point to keeping their calm despite the bad goaltender interference call or the T.J. Oshie insurance goal. To me, the first part of this Capitals momentum shift came from Wilson’s goal stop and then two goals shortly after.

This one is coming back to DC deadlocked at two apiece.

By Michael Marzzacco

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