Tom Wilson’s punching bag Brayden Schenn has turned himself into one heck of a player. In the regular season, Schenn scored a career-high 26 goals and was the Flyers third-leading scorer (59 points). He also can be a pest and an impressive physical player.
Thursday night at Verizon Center, Schenn focused more on the latter after Alex Ovechkin injured Flyers forward Sean Couturier with a clean open-ice hit.
In my opinion, Schenn crossed the line in delivering several questionable hits late in the game. Was he trying to injure dudes? You tell me.
Midway through the third period, Schenn launched himself into forward Mike Richards. Despite Schenn’s skates being “like 10 feet off the ice” according to Tom Wilson, there was no penalty called. Richards spoke exclusively to RMNB’s Chris Gordon about the play and how he told Wilson not to retaliate. But that is not a good look.
Later in the period with both teams down a man, Evgeny Kuznetsov created open space for himself and took a backhanded shot at Steve Mason. Mason made the save, but Schenn shouldered Kuznetsov from behind, not going for the puck. A Flyers fan might tell you Schenn was playing hard to the whistle. A reasonable human might tell you he was trying to injure one of the Caps’ best players.
With no time left on the clock, Schenn hit an unsuspecting Karl Alzner, igniting a brawl.
After the game, Alzner spoke to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Chuck Gormley and played off the hit.
“Because it was loud and I couldn’t quite hear the horn I thought it was already over at that point,” Alzner said to Gormley. “Once the puck hit Holts, I wasn’t expecting it. But, I mean, it’s fine. It’s not like it was from behind into the boards or anything. It was a pretty clean hit from what I saw. I had no issue. I was just off-balance and he caught me off-guard.”
Tom Wilson saw things differently. “It’s kind of an unwritten rule. You’re down two goals you don’t run a guy with .1 seconds left on the clock.”
(Actually, there were zero seconds left on the clock.)
These were just the three most egregious examples of Schenn dispensing frontier justice. The Caps noticed.
During the Alzner brawl, Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen cross-checked Schenn in the shoulder and neck area several times, appearing to injure the forward. Schenn left the fracas early to sit on the bench with his teammates.
The Capitals must keep their emotions in check during this series. The Flyers could flourish when the game goes off the rails. Retaliation penalties beget power plays beget goals against, but cooler heads should prevail.
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