Before last night’s game against the St. Louis Blues, there was a murmur around the city as the Washington Capitals prepared to take on the Blues. The reason was because the last time these two teams faced off, Capitals forward Tom Wilson drilled Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist with an illegal check to the head which resulted in a 20 game suspension, which would then be reduced to 14 games by a Neutral Arbitrator.
Going into this game the storyline was not about Dmitrij Jaskin facing off against his former team for the first time, but that of Wilson coming to town to face the Blues since his hit on Sundqvist.
Going into last night’s game Blues sideline reporter for Fox Sports Midwest Andy Strickland got a moment to sit down with Wilson for a brief chat which revealed a few things.
The first thing we take away from this tweet is that Wilson has gotten the message from the League, and he is trying to adapt his game accordingly. It’s in his head “100%” while he is playing, and as a result is throwing fewer hits.
Secondly, he stated that he has gotten to the point where he would rather not through a hit in fear that it would be deemed illegal. Now I know a lot of people take issue with this part, but lets be honest here. The lines as to what is legal and what is not are blurred, and that is an issue.
When we saw Wilson get a match penalty against the New Jersey Devils last month for a hit he was trying to avoid it was clear afterwards that he was trying to get out of the way, and he did not make contact with the head, but then fast forward a few games later to when the Capitals faced of against the Vegas Golden Knights we see Ryan Reaves skating around and targeting Wilson with his hit from behind, granted he made no contact with Wilson head, but still purposely delivered a blindside hit that did injure Wilson.
However, there are other examples to where these lines are blurred that we can discuss another time, and we do on this week’s episode of TXHT that is out tomorrow morning.
Tom Wilson has proven since coming back from his suspension that he is trying to change his game for the better, and his numbers are showing such.
In 20 games played so far, Wilson has 11 goals, 8 assists for 19 points which is almost a point per game. Wilson is also a +11, and on special teams has 2 powerplay goals and 4 powerplay points along with one shorthanded goal. Wilson has amassed 48 shots on goal, for a 22.9% shooting percentage, and astonishingly has a 52.38% faceoff percentage.
Tom Wilson is on the rise. He answered the bell last night when he fought Robert Bortuzzo and did so a few games ago when he fought Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, but overall you can see that he is making an attempt to change his game and become more of a team player and contribute both offensively and defensively for the Capitals.
Tom Wilson will remain a polarizing figure, but if he continues to change for the better, he will definitely repair his image in the NHL.
*Feature Photo courtesy of the Washington Capitals.