Artsy. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
“Tom Wilson needs to play like Tom Wilson,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said early this month. “If Tom Wilson starts to play like someone else, then he won’t be on the first line.”
It’s been over a month since the bellicose winger got promoted to top line duty. He was in full bloom on Thursday, agitating the Blue Jackets all night. His premiere moment of belligerence came midway through the second period when Wilson goaded James Wisniewski into taking four minutes of penalty time for attempting to disfigure Wilson’s face.
Wisniewski’s assault failed, his stick snapping upon contact with Wilson’s chin.
That gave the Caps yet more power play time — they drew 14 PIMs tonight — to pummel Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Bob, however, was sublime in net, stopping seven shots on the Wisniewski power play.
“It was just a battle in front of the net,” Wilson told me. “It’s a good hard battle and he kinda crossed the line a little bit. That’s why he ended up with the four minutes.”
“I mean, we’ve got five of the best players in the first power play,” he continued. “They’re gonna capitalize when they can. Any chance I get to put us up a man I’ll do that. … I just play my game.”
In addition to the Wisniewski whack, Wilson also drew a holding call on Brandon Dubinsky in the game’s second minute. Washington would score on the ensuing 5-on-3 power play after the Jackets took a too many men penalty. This comes on the heels of Tuesday’s game in Tampa, in which Wilson drew three minor penalties and ended up looking like this. Wilson finished Thursday’s game with 11:42 of ice time, two hits, and one shot attempt. According to your boy Adam Vingan, Wilson has drawn 21 penalties in just 18 games this season.
“He’s under everybody’s skin,” Trotz said of Wilson’s play. “He’s going to those hard areas. That’s why they’re trying to keep him out of there because he’s going there and he’s drawing penalties.”
“That gives us a chance to win every night,” the coach concluded.
Ultimately, Bobrovsky’s magnificence buried the Caps. He finished the game with 39 saves of 42 shots and spent over 10 minutes killing penalties with his reflexes. Last week in South Florida, Bobrovsky stopped 55 shots on the way to a victory over the Panthers.
“He played outstanding,” Karl Alzner said. “We knew he was going to.”