Tom Wilson has been vindicated. Thirty-eight hours after Wilson was assessed a match penalty for a deliberate attempt to injure Ottawa Senators forward Curtis Lazar, the NHL has rescinded the penalty and waived the automatic suspension that goes with it. A league source confirmed the ruling to CSN Mid-Atlantic.
As a result, Wilson will be in the lineup tonight at Verizon Center when the Capitals face the Tampa Bay Lightning (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN). Wilson is also expected to have his 10-minute misconduct struck from the record, dropping his team-high penalty minutes from 75 to 65.
It might take a little more for Wilson to erase the reputation he has earned around the NHL as a dirty player, a reputation his teammates say is completely unwarranted.
“Everyone’s pretty aware of it. We feel he gets targeted by the refs,” Caps center Michael Latta said. “Not necessarily by the league because they haven’t suspended him. But he definitely gets targeted by the refs. He’s a young guy and he plays a big game and I think he gets targeted a lot.
“You saw (Wednesday night). I thought it was a pretty harmless hit. (Lazar) is trying to go one-on-two or one-on-three and you’re never going to get a good situation like that unless you’re Ovi (Alex Ovechkin). (Lazar) kind of put himself in a bad situation there and Willy bumps him.
“I think it’s definitely a reputation call and it could have jeopardized the game for us.”
Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie agrees.
“I think ‘Whip’ kind of has a target on his back right now,” Oshie said. “It’s unfortunate for him. He’s a young guy, he plays hard and for him to have a target on his back, it’s unfortunate. When it’s not a penalty you don’t want to see a guy leave for five minutes and have his team have to kill it off.”
Wilson and Capitals coach Barry Trotz spoke at length on Thursday about Wilson’s reputation and his need to stay on the ice in critical situations for the Capitals.
Wilson, 21, has had a handful of hits reviewed by the NHL without consequence.
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