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Tom Wilson to have second hearing of the preseason with Department of Player Safety

Tom Wilson to have second hearing of the preseason with Department of Player Safety

Tom Wilson will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for boarding the Blues’ Sammy Blais.

It’ll be the second time in less than two weeks that player safety has called a hearing with the rugged Capitals winger.

In the second period of Sunday’s preseason finale—a 4-3 Washington victory at Scottrade Center in St. Louis—Wilson was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for hitting Blais from behind.

Although Blais was initially shaken by the hit, he returned to the game after clearing the league’s concussion protocol.

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For a typical game on NBC Sports Washington, there at least five views for the department of player safety to review, and sometimes as many as 11. This game, however, wasn’t typical; it was not broadcast in Washington or St. Louis. There is, however, in-arena video of the play.

Although Wilson plays on the edge and has been in the league’s crosshairs for some time now, he’s avoided getting into serious trouble until recently.

On Sept. 23, the 23-year-old was suspended two exhibition games for a late hit on St. Louis’ Robert Thomas. It was the first suspension of Wilson’s career and, more important, it made him repeat offender in the eyes of the NHL. As such, it’s less likely he’ll receive any leniency for the hit on Blais.

After the game, Blues Coach Mike Yeo suggested that it’s perhaps time for the league to come down hard on Wilson.
   
“It’s a predatory hit with a guy that apparently didn’t learn his lesson from the first suspension,” Yeo told reporters in St. Louis. “So, maybe coming down a little bit harder on him will make him think a little bit more about it. It’s tough going against vulnerable people.”  

Blais also thought the hit was dangerous, saying, “…it was not a good hit. I didn’t see him coming. If I saw him coming I would protect myself.”

After last week’s suspension, Wilson vowed not to change his hard-hitting style of play, adding, “Every time you make a body check, you’re making a split-second decision. I take pride in the physical nature of my game. I take pride in my body checks. This is my fifth season, and I’ve made a lot of body checks — very clean, hard hits. So I trust myself. Maybe it was a second late or whatever, but I’m going to learn from it and I’m going to continue to play my game, my hard-natured hockey.”

That suspension, though, amounted to a cheap lesson for Wilson. Preseason games, of course, do not count in the standings and he did not forfeit any salary since players are not paid until the regular season.

If he’s suspended on Tuesday, though, the consequences will be much more severe. In addition to his paycheck being docked, it’ll leave Washington with a hole to fill up front until he returns. Wilson is also on the team’s top penalty kill forward pair with Lars Eller.

The Caps are leaning toward keeping the maximum of 23 players on the opening night roster, which must be finalized by Tuesday at 5 p.m., so that they’ll have an extra forward in the event Wilson is banned.

The regular season begins Thursday in Ottawa.

MORE CAPITALS: WAS TOM WILSON'S HIT ON SAMMY BLAIS 'PREDATOR?'

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Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

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Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

Lars Eller did not practice on Monday, and coach Barry Trotz shuffled his injury-depleted defense corps.

Here’s how everyone lined up:

Forwards

Burakovsky – Backstrom – Oshie

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Vrana

Connolly – Graovac – Wilson

Smith-Pelly – Beagle – Chiasson

Walker

Defense

Orpik – Bowey

Djoos – Carlson

Orlov – Chorney

Ness

Goalies

Holtby

Grubauer

RELATED: Caps destroyed by Flyers in lopsided road loss

Some notes, quotes and observations from KCI:

  • Trotz said Eller showed up sick and was sent home to recover and avoid spreading whatever he’s got. Trotz also isn’t sure whether the veteran center will be able to suit up against Toronto on Tuesday. “I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t answer that right now. We’ll see where his energy level is.”

 

  • The coaching staff shuffled the D-pairs with speedy Toronto coming to town. But Trotz also cautioned not to read too much into the tandems, since they’re likely to change throughout Tuesday’s game. Trotz even hinted that a final decision on which six D-men will suit up had not yet been made. “They’re going to be shuffled from now until we get people back,” Trotz said, referring to the injured Matt Niskanen, who is week-to-week with an upper body injury. “There are pairs for practice. There are pairs for parts of games. It’ll be a little bit situational.”

 

  • If defenseman Taylor Chorney does get back into the lineup, he knows that he needs to make a positive impression after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch. “I’ve been through this quite a bit over the last couple of years, but at the same time you probably want to make a little bit of a statement,” he acknowledged. “So for me, if I do get the opportunity to play, it would be a big game.”  

 

  • Speaking of the Leafs, they’re off to a 4-1-0 start with Auston Matthews (5 goals, including two OT winners) leading the way. Overall, Toronto is averaging a league-leading 5.2 goals per game. As you might imagine, Trotz had a lot of praise for last season’s first round opponent in general and Matthews specifically. “If he was playing 20 years ago, we’d be saying he’s Mario Lemieux-like,” Trotz said. “He’s six-foot-[three]. He skates great. He’s got unbelievable hands. And a hockey I.Q. and he’s strong on the puck.”  

 

  • As Washington attempts to turn the page from Saturday’s 8-2 clunker in Philly, Trotz said one area he’d like to see shored up is the number of shots the Caps have been allowing. Through six games, they’re yielding 34.5 shots on goal per game (tied for ninth most). Last year, they allowed 27.8 (fourth best). “We’re not as structured defensively,” Trotz said. “We haven’t put as big an emphasis this year as we did last year. We’ve put a little more emphasis on trying to replace some of the goals that we lost. But right now we have to get a little more balance. …We have to get that back into balance; we practiced some of that today.”

 

  • As you may remember, Madison Bowey’s father, Will, jumped on the first flight out of British Columbia that he could find in the hopes of catching his son’s NHL debut Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. As it turned out, though, he experienced a couple of travel delays and didn’t make it. Dad will, however, be in attendance Tuesday night.

 

MORE CAPS: Nicklas Backstrom shines among NHL's top stars

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Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom named one of NHL's 3 stars for standout week

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Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom named one of NHL's 3 stars for standout week

Nicklas Backstrom has been the Capitals’ best player so far this season, according to coach Barry Trotz. And he was recognized for his play on Monday when the NHL named him third star of the week.

No one had more points over the past week than the Caps’ star center, who racked up three goals and six assists in four games.

Trotz praised Backstrom for his point production — and his play on the other side of the puck.   

“He’s been really good,” Trotz said. “Nick has been all business. He’s playing very well. He’s been our best player, no question, with balance in his game. Nick’s balance in his game is really good—on my soap box again—and that’s what makes him one of the best two-way centermen in the National Hockey League. ”

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Last season, Backstrom didn’t get his third goal until the 16th game (en route to a 23-goal campaign). In six games this season, the 29-year-old has three goals and eight helpers.

First star of the week was Winnipeg winger Nikolaj Ehlers (five goals, two assists), while Toronto center Auston Matthews (four goals, including two OT winners) received second star honors.

On Tuesday at Capital One Arena, it’ll be second star versus third star as Matthews and the Leafs take on on Backstrom’s Caps.

MORE CAPS: How the Caps flopped in Philly