By Chris Gordon
Photo: Patrick Smith
Tom Wilson almost made it through a Caps-Flyers game without getting involved in something foolish. But with six minutes and 51 seconds left in a one goal playoff hockey game, Wilson decided to board defenseman Andrew McDonald. It was an obvious penalty.
Thankfully for Wilson, Wayne Simmonds, who led the Flyers in regular season goals (32), decided a late game comeback push was the perfect time to retaliate. Simmonds took a roughing penalty before he and Wilson decided to punch each other in the face, negating any advantage for Philly when they needed it most.
“That was his choice, not ours,” Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said of Simmonds. “He’s a good player.”
But take a look at the hit itself. It’s completely unnecessary. Wilson was lucky to only be hit with a two minute minor.
McDonald put himself in a susceptible position behind the net, but there’s simply no reason for Wilson to hit the Flyer in the back of the numbers, especially with the Caps clinging to a tight playoff lead.
“I think at that point probably not,” Trotz said when I asked him if Wilson should have been so aggressive at that point of the game. “I watched it. The defensemen sees him coming and at the last minute tries to spin off. Really you don’t even need to come in that hot just to take a chance.”
Nevertheless, Trotz defended Wilson’s game overall.
“I think Willy has done a really good job the last little while of being disciplined and backing off any hits,” the coach said. “The natural thing now is to see a big load like that coming is to jump out of the way and turn your back. It’s happening more and more where guys will just throw their back to the glass and hope there’s a penalty. Anytime you see that, you gotta pull back and he’s done a really good job for the most part the last little while here.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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