After the Washington Capitals held their morning skate Thursday Morning, numerous players and coach Barry Trotz spoke to the media. Of course, the hot topic was the Tom Wilson three-game suspension. Here’s what was said from the locker room.
Trotz was asked if he was surprised by the length of the suspension.
“Nothing surprises me anymore,” Trotz answered.
“There was no penalty (in the second period of Game 3 for that hit). The discipline, I think it’s pretty extreme. I think it’s very extreme actually,” said Oshie.
Oshie, like many members of the team, was pissed about the suspension and believed that Wilson was “taken away” from them. Oshie also believed this punishment takes the physicality out of the game.
Oshie recalled, “There’s been a million times where I’ve gotten hit. I go to the ref and say I’ve got hit in the head. The ref just says, ‘He’s bigger than you.’ That’s the way it goes.”
“The boys are fired up. We have a sense of confidence,” Oshie added. “I think any arrogance that could’ve came from our last couple of victories I think has been squashed from the fact that we’re losing Tom. He’s been taken away from us for a couple of games here. We’re fired up to play and we want to win for him.”
Wilson’s replacement will be Devante Smith-Pelly on the top line, alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The team captain and the hero of Game 3 also spoke to reporters.
“It’s hard but we’re gonna move forward and we’re going to play the game,” said Alex Ovechkin. “He means a lot to this team: his physicality, he’s not afraid when he’s on the ice, he plays hard and people respect him.”
Unlike previous Caps playoff teams, it seems that this year’s version is more of a close, tight-knit unit.
“I think our locker room already is close,” added Ovechkin. “We always say no matter what happens we’ll always stick together and play for each other so in this situation everybody has to step up and play the right way.
When goaltender Braden Holtby spoke with reporters, he suggested that the team should treat this as one of their players getting injured, instead of looking at this as a suspension.
“Our job as players is to fill in for Tom, make up for the things he brings to our team. In order to do that for a guy like him, we have to bring it in collectively and find ways and areas to do that,” said Holtby. “We’ve got to treat it like an injury. You don’t get down on yourself when someone is injured, you find ways to make up for that and play better.”
Holtby was also asked if this news can help be a rallying cry for the team to try to defeat the Penguins tonight and send this series back to DC with the Capitals holding the Pens on the ropes with a 3-1 series lead.
“Because it was so surprising for all of us, you could use that. Any type of adversity, anything you’re up against, if you have the mindset where you’re gonna fight through anything you can push yourself to new limits. That’s our goal and that’s our focus here in Game 4, focusing on what we can do to win,” said Holtby.
By Michael Marzzacco