On September 30th, 2018 Tom Wilson did an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist, which resulted to Wilson being suspended for 20 games by the NHL Department of Player Safety on October 3rd. After NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the suspension, neutral arbitrator Shyam Das would reduce Wilson’s suspension to 14 games after having already missed 16 games. Wilson would return to the lineup immediately on November 13th for the Washington Capitals against the Minnesota Wild.
Upon his return Wilson made an impact right away scoring a goal and subsequently getting a goalie interference call at the same time.
After that Wilson would fight Marcus Foligno to help guide the Capitals to a 5-2 victory over the Wild. Then the next night in Winnipeg Wilson would be held off of the score sheet as the Capitals would fall to the Jets 3-1. However, in both games Wilson averaged 16:30 minutes in ice time, and registered two shots combined with 7 penalty minutes and was Even in +/-.
Then in his next eight games Tom Wilson showed why the Capitals drafted him 16th overall in 2012, as he would explode on the first line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, and at times with Lars Eller. In these next eight games Wilson would register 7 goals, 6 assists for 13 points which also include Wilson being on a 6 game goal streak and an 8 game point streak, which are both active currently. Also Wilson would register 4 multi-point games and one 2 goal game. On special teams Wilson would also register 2 goals and 3 points on the powerplay, and 1 shorthanded goal. Also in every game, with the exception of the November 30th game against New Jersey which we will talk about in a moment, Wilson would average over 20 minutes of playing time and 2 plus shots a game.
In the span of these eight games the Capitals would go 7-1-0 with all seven wins happening consecutively. In all 10 games that Wilson has played in the Capitals have an 8-2-0 record, and also saw their penalty kill improve by 10.2% from October (going into their game on December 2nd versus Anaheim). Plus the Capitals as a whole have played a much better as a team.
However, it would be a miss if we didn’t have a little controversy involving Tom Wilson as on November 30th against the New Jersey Devils, Wilson would unfortunately get attention for all of the wrong reasons. After scoring a shorthanded goal 8 seconds into the 2nd period, Wilson would be tracking his man into the Capitals zone and would lay a hit on Devils forward Brett Seney.
The play would result in Wilson getting a Match penalty for an Illegal hit to the Head, however, as it would be shown in the still we were able to grab you can see that Wilson did not make contact with Seney’s head at all.
Also as seen on the play Wilson does make an effort to try to avoid contact.
Of course the big reason that this is controversial is because it is Tom Wilson. Plus he was in his 9th game back from suspension and we all know that Wilson is under a microscope by the League. Luckily for Wilson the Department of Player Safety decided that there would be no supplementary discipline as it was deemed that Wilson did not make contact with the head.
Outside of this one little (big) blip for Tom Wilson, he has been proving why the Capitals drafted him in the first round, and with his role on the team, he has helped turn the ship around after a slow start to the season. If Wilson keeps playing the way he has been and stays away from the bad hits, and keeps playing smart, Wilson will be setting all new career highs this season.
Also please read Isabelle Khurshudyan’s article on Tom Wilson for The Washington Post. It is a definite must read.
Feature Photo Credit – Washington Capitals Twitter