On Wednesday, Tom Wilson was suspended for three playoff games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head, which left Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese with a broken jaw and a concussion.
For Game Four, the lineup has seen a bit of a shake up due to Wilson’s absence. Several Capitals players addressed the media on Thursday morning to discuss what Wilson’s suspension meant for the team, and their mentality heading into Game Four.
Oshie was the most forthright about the team’s disappointment about the suspension
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 3, 2018
“The boys are fired up,” TJ Oshie said, of the atmosphere in the locker room. “We had a sense of confidence. I think any arrogance that could have [come] from our last couple of victories has been squashed from the fact that we’re losing Tom [Wilson]. He’s been taken away from us for a couple of games. We’re fired up to play and we want to win the game for him.”
As for how Oshie felt about Wilson’s suspension, specifically the three game span, he told The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga, “There was no penalty. The discipline, I think it’s pretty extreme. I think it’s very extreme, actually.”
Oshie also thought there needed to be more emphasis on players being aware of their surrounding. Particularly when it came down to players thinking that they could get away with anything, and should anyone touch them, it’d be an automatic penalty or suspension.
“I 100 percent agree with the hits to the head that are unnecessary, are directly targeted, and you can tell they’re targeted,” Oshie said. “But I’m completely against taking away physicality from the game.”
“I think it’s two guys that see each other. They both go to hit each other. And one guy, usually one guy loses that battle. I’ve been on both ends of it,” Oshie said to Svrluga. “I think for sure — and I want to get this point across — you never want to see a guy break his jaw and leave a game like that. I don’t know what the concussion status is, but I’ve had that before and that’s something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. But it’s a physical game. And it seems little by little we’re taking physicality out of the game.”
“Our job as players is to fill in for Tom, make up for the things he brings to our team.” — Braden Holtby on losing Tom Wilson for three games. #Caps #CapsPens #ALLCAPS #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/Tey3zvkDbG
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) May 3, 2018
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby also spoke to the media. “Our job as players is to fill in for Tom, make up for the things he brings to our team.” Holtby said. “Every team, you’ve got to treat it just like an injury. You don’t get down on yourself when somebody gets injured, you find ways to make up for that, and play better. And that’s our goal.”
When asked whether he thought Wilson’s suspension would motivate the team, he said, “I think so. Any type of adversity, anything that you’re up against, if you have the mindset that you’re going to fight through anything, you can push yourself to new limits. That’s our goal. That starts with focusing here on Game Four, and focusing on what we can do to win.”
“It’s hard, but we’re going to move forward and we’re going to play the game.” — Alex Ovechkin on the Tom Wilson suspension and what No. 43 means to the #Caps. #CapsPens #ALLCAPS #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/6KdSPXwiHj
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) May 3, 2018
“It’s hard, but we’re going to move forward and we’re going to play the game,” Alex Ovechkin said, on how Wilson’s suspension would affect the team, for Game Four and beyond.
“I would say he means a lot for this team. Physicality. Teams are afraid when he’s on the ice and he shows it. He plays hard, people respect it,” he added. “I think our locker room already it’s close. We’re together, and we always say whatever happens we stick together, and play for each other. The situation, everybody have to step up and play the right way.
As for head coach Barry Trotz, when asked whether the three game suspension surprised him, he quipped, “Nothing surprises me anymore.”
Asked Trotz if he was surprised by three games for Wilson.
“Nothing surprises me anymore.”
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) May 3, 2018
Immediately following Wilson’s hit to Zach Aston-Reese, Trotz tapped his shoulder and said, “That’s a clean hit.”
Headline photo: @TarikNBCS
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