Capitals right wing Tom Wilson has a little message for Flyers left wing Brayden Schenn, who recorded a game-high seven hits in the Capitals’ 2-0 series-opening win Thursday night at Verizon Center.
Keep your skates on the ice and, while you’re at it, keep your eyes on the game clock.
Wilson had a positive impact on the Capitals’ victory, taking top-line right wing Wayne Simmonds off the ice for the final 6:51 of Thursday night’s game after the two received fighting majors, plus two-minute minors. (More on that in a minute).
But it was a pair of hits by Schenn that bothered Wilson most. The first game when Schenn rocked veteran center Mike Richards with an open-ice hit.
“I kind of looked over and saw his feet were like 10 feet off the ice,” Wilson said of Schenn. “I just went over, I put my hand in his chest and he just went down like a sack of potatoes. There was really nothing there, that’s why the ref didn’t blow the whistle or anything. He was obviously trying to draw a penalty in that situation.
“You know what? Give him credit. He was launching himself into everyone last night. He was playing high energy, but obviously you’re supposed to keep your skates on the ice.”
Wilson said as soon as he tried stepping in between Schenn and Richards, he was brushed away.
“Richie kind of yelled at me and said, ‘I’m all good. Just stay away.’ I’ve got to realize the time of the game. As long as Richie is all right, there’s really no need to do anything, just kind of let them know we’re not happy.”
Like at the end of the game. With time running out, Caps goaltender Braden Holtby stopped a shot by Claude Giroux and everyone waited for the final horn. Everyone but Schenn, who railroaded Alzner.
“Because it was loud and I couldn’t quite hear the horn I thought it was already over at that point,” Alzner said. “Once the puck hit Holts, I wasn’t expecting it. But, I mean, it’s fine. It’s not like it was from behind into the boards or anything. It was a pretty clean hit from what I saw. I had no issue. I was just off-balance and he caught me off-guard.”
Maybe, but Wilson thought it was unnecessary.
“Obviously, it was a little bit – I don’t want to say unsportsmanlike – but there’s zero seconds on the clock and he comes in with a huge hit. Not to say we wouldn’t do the same thing, as long as you go whistle to whistle. The buzzer hadn’t gone yet, so he’s finishing his check. It’s playoffs and every check matters. He’s an energy guy and kudos to him for playing until the end of the buzzer. But we’re gonna stick up for each other. It’s kind of an unwritten rule. You’re down two goals you don’t run a guy with .1 seconds left on the clock. We’re just going to forget about that.”
As for the third-period fight with Simmonds, it came after Wilson slammed Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald into the boards near the Flyers bench. Wilson received a boarding minor for the hit, but Simmonds got an extra roughing minor and both were forced to watch the rest of the game their locker rooms.
“Honestly, I didn’t think the hit (on MacDonald) was that bad,” Wilson said. “A lot of the noise was kind of from my body hitting the boards. I tried to work my way around him as much as possible. He didn’t go in very hard. It was a big noise and obviously Simmonds is an emotional guy and one of their best players and he came over. The hockey aspect of it took over. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Ironically, Wilson and Simmonds are good friends off the ice. They are both from Toronto and have worked out with the same trainer for the past five or six years.
“He’s a real awesome guy,” Wilson said. “Off the ice he’s played a huge role in kind of where I’ve gotten to. He’s always been there in my workout group. He’s been kind of a mentor for me, but none of that matters right now. I’m sure he won’t be too happy with me. We’ve gone at it a couple times and that’s the beauty of the game. You can battle it out and leave everything on the ice and go back and kind of have a good relationship after the game. That’s what the hockey community’s all about.”
Wilson, who scored a career-high seven goals this season, said he would like to develop into the offensive catalyst Simmonds is in Philadelphia, where he led the Flyers with 32 goals.
“I can take a huge page out of his text book,” Wilson said. He’s probably the best guy in the league in front of the net. He almost single-handedly got them into the playoffs based on his power and his leadership. He’s the X factor for them and I hope I didn’t wake him up. He’s going to come out in Game 2 flying like the rest of their team. They’re going to be chomping at the bit to get another crack at us. We’ve just got to be ready for it.”