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Wilson on refs: 'There's no reason for me to open my mouth'


Wilson on refs: 'There's no reason for me to open my mouth'

NEW YORK -- In his first three seasons in the NHL, Tom Wilson has piled up 421 penalty minutes in his first 189 games. On Thursday night at Barclays Center he was assessed his first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for mouthing off to an official.

Wilson had finished a check along the wall and was knocked down in the crease by Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy. When Wilson tried getting up, Leddy cross-checked him back to the ice.

Frustrated that a call was not made on Leddy, Wilson complained to referee Tim Peel on his way to the Capitals bench and was hit with hockey’s version of a technical foul.

“Obviously, I felt it was a bit of a cross-check or I wouldn’t have said anything,” said Wilson, who is third in the NHL with 98 penalty minutes. “It’s the heat of the game, but there’s no reason for me to open my mouth.

“Those are veteran refs. They’re good refs. You can get away with saying a lot and I gave my opinion and obviously, he didn’t want to hear it. But at that moment of the game I need to be more professional, be more aware and be more mature and realize that’s not the time of game to be expressing your emotions verbally toward the refs.”

The Capitals owned a 2-1 lead at the time of Wilson’s penalty and needed big blocks by Matt Niskanen and Brooks Laich and two big saves by Braden Holtby to keep the Islanders from tying the score. Six seconds after Wilson was released from the box, Caps defenseman drilled a drop pass from Nicklas Backstrom past goaltender Jaro Halak to give the Caps a 3-1 lead in an eventual 4-1 win.

After the game Trotz said he was happy with his team’s resilience during the penalty kill but was not happy with Wilson putting them in that position. Wilson agreed.

“It’s not like different (refs) are more sensitive, it’s just respecting the officials as a whole,” he said. “We don’t want to be known as a team that’s yelling at the refs. We just need to play and let them do their jobs. I lost it for five seconds, said an ‘F’ word and if he decides to call it, it’s in his hands. I’ve just got to make sure I just come to the bench, come out the next shift and keep playing.”

Wilson said he and linemate Jason Chimera struck an instant chemistry with Marcus Johansson when the three were united following the hand injury to center Jay Beagle. Johansson, who will miss this weekend’s games against the Rangers and Senators while serving a two-game suspension, is expected to be replaced with either Michael Latta or Hershey call-up Paul Carey today at Madison Square Garden (1 p.m., CSN).

[RELATED: Trotz on Richards: 'He has some work to do']


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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

USA Today Sports

Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been declared day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury, the Caps announced Saturday afternoon.

He will not play Sunday against the Flyers, marking the first time in four seasons that the durable 25-year-old center will have missed a game.

Kuznetsov, the Caps’ assists leader and first line pivot over the past week, was injured in the second period of Friday’s 6-3 win over the Islanders. On the play, he slashed on the arm by New York defenseman Thomas Hickey before he tumbled awkwardly into the end boards.


Kuznetsov did not return to the contest.

The Caps did not practice on Saturday as they made their way to Philadelphia, where they'll look to extend their winning streak to five games.  

The team, per usual, did not elaborate about the extent or nature of Kuznetsov’s injury. But it does seem to be a good sign that he was not listed as week-to-week—the designation the Caps typically reserve for more severe injuries. And with a two point lead on Pittsburgh in the Metro Division standings—and a game in hand—they can actually afford to be cautious with one of their most important players.


The injury does, however, come at a time when Kuznetsov appeared to be hitting his stride. Including the two assists he had racked up prior to leaving Friday’s game, Kuzy has amassed five goals and 11 assists in 10 games.    

Without Kuznetsov on Sunday, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle will be the team’s most experienced centers. Travis Boyd and/or Chandler Stephenson figure to be deployed as the fourth pivot.

Coach Barry Trotz is expected to meet with reporters prior to Sunday’s game. It’s possible he’ll shed some more light on Kuznetsov’s outlook at that time.

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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