WASINGTON, DC — From the drop of the puck it looked like the Capitals had tonight’s game against the New Jeresy Devils well under control. Their top line came out to a quick start, which is relatively unusual for this team, scoring in the opening period, when Nicklas Backstrom flipped one in from the crease on a pass from Alex Ovechkin.
But the real action started in the second period, when Tom Wilson scored his seventh goal of the season less than 10 seconds into the period — on the penalty kill no less. Tom Wilson now on a five-game goal streak, has been unstoppable since coming back from his 16-game suspension.
But the end of the second period wouldn’t be as kind to Wilson as the start had been.
With less than three minutes to go in the second period, Wilson decided to make what I’d generously call an unnecessary hit or bump from behind to the shoulder of New Jersey’s Brett Seney. Seney was down on the ice for a minute after the hit and headed to the locker room early but ultimately returned the next period uninjured.
Wilson was given a five-minute match penalty for illegal hit to the head. Todd Reirden was not happy with the call at all and the crowd was even less pleased, booing the officials for the rest of the game.
Tom Wilson hit on Brett Seney pic.twitter.com/1DSpoctEnc
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) December 1, 2018
After the game when asked about the hit, Capitals Head Coach Todd Rierden was adamant saying, “It’s incidental contact… [Wilson]’s not even attempting to make a hit. This guy is doing everything he can to play the right way.”
According to Todd Rierden, there was some talk in the locker room among the players and staff before the start of third period to go out and win this one for Tom. Braden Holtby even went as far as to say they, “killed that one off for Tommy.”
But no matter what your opinion on the actual hit is, it seems like Tom Wilson is clearly still under the microscope and is continuing to build a bad reputation around the league. And it seems clearer than ever the referees aren’t going to give him the benefit of the doubt anymore.
Now it’s up to Tom Wilson to stop putting himself in a position where his fate as a player in this league gets taken out of his hands. Wilson is too important to this team to be suspended anymore this season. He brings energy, speed and skill to this team’s first line in a way that allows them to consistently play at their highest level, without him they are at a big disadvantage.
Now we’ll have to wait to see if the Department of Player Safety will take supplemental action against Wilson based on their review of the play.
Luckly, after the controversy the Capitals re-took control of the game scoring four more goals in the third period downing the Devils by a score of 6 to 3.
By Charlie DiPasquale