Capitals third-year right wing Tom Wilson needs to only take a look at the red welts on his right hand to be reminded of the effects of fighting in the NHL. On Friday night, Wilson twice dropped the gloves and went at it with Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller.
And while his hand may throb a bit when he brushes his teeth or grips a fork, Wilson says he’d do it again if meant defending his captain and/or star player.
“Any time you get into a fight your hands take a beating,” said Wilson, who knocked Miller’s helmet off with a hard right uppercut in their first bout. “He was going after Ovi a little bit. He’s the best player in the league and our captain. That’s one reason.
“(Bruins defenseman Adam) McQuaid kind of goes after (T.J.) Oshie and (my) second fight followed that. ... He's a pretty tough kid and he's been pretty mouthy in the past. My hand’s pretty sore, so that’s kind of one of the reasons you want to be careful in the preseason. But at the end of the day it’s all good. ... It didn’t really feel like a preseason game. It felt almost like a playoff game last night. It was pretty intense.”
At the start of training camp Wilson said he has no intention of taking the “teeth out of the tiger,” but said he wants to become more of an impact player on the offensive side of the ice, where he recorded four goals and 13 assists in 67 games last season while averaging 10:56 of ice time a game.
Against the Bruins Friday night, Wilson played on a line with Jay Beagle and Brooks Laich and logged just 11:01 of ice time, including 1:37 on the penalty kill and 28 seconds on the power play. He spent an additional 12 minutes in the penalty box and that’s something he’d like to change in the regular season.
Which brings us to Sunday night’s preseason finale against the New York Islanders. In the Caps’ first visit to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Monday night Islanders 39-year-old forward Eric Boulton repeatedly tried to engage Wilson in a fight and afterward accused Wilson of being “scared to death” of him.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz responded by saying Wilson is afraid of no one and was told before the game not to fight Boulton.
“In preseason I don’t feel it’s a good situation to fight a guy like that, who’s literally out there just to fight,” Wilson said. “He’s not doing anything other than going around looking for guys to fight. But (Kevan) Miller is one of (Boston’s) D-men, he was with them last year and it was a high-emotion game.
“The Boulton thing, I’m standing there with literally no emotion at all and he’s coming after me. That’s kind of a staged fight. Miller, he’s going after our captain, mouthing off a little at our bench. That’s something you’re not OK with and you go out there and handle it.”