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Can Tom Wilson be as effective a player without a crowd to feed off of?

Can Tom Wilson be as effective a player without a crowd to feed off of?

When the 2020 postseason finally gets underway in August, the games will be played without fans. NHL commissioner Garry Bettman said in a press conference Saturday that the league had "very special things planned" to enhance the game atmosphere, but regardless of what the league tries to do, there is no question that the games are going to lose something without that fan element. No Capitals player understands that more than Tom Wilson.

"Less boos and less cheers, I guess, at home," Wilson said after Monday's practice. "But it will be weird."

Fans like having access to the players, but there is such a thing as too much access. We see that every year when a team wins the Stanley Cup and the cameras (and especially the mics) get too close to the celebrations. After a few swear words make it into the broadcast, the camera quickly shifts away. Now imagine what you can hear from players when there is no sound from the fans to drown them out.

That's something that Wilson, a known trash-talker on the ice, has thought about.

"I’ll have to watch, I guess, what I’m saying," he said. "Less F words and stuff like that. It will definitely be a little bit different if the mics are picking that up. But I guess it will be entertaining."

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But how will this affect the game itself?

Just how strange it will be to see games without fans in the stands and how exactly these games will look and sound has been discussed ad nauseam to this point. Something that no one is talking about is how this could actually affect the game.

Physical play is not just about the physical toll it takes on opposing players, it's also about building momentum. It's about feeding off the swell of the crowd, the boos or the cheers after a big hit.

While physical play will always be a part of Wilson's game, what will that look like without fans? Will that element of the game be as effective without a crowd to feed off of?

"I’m a guy that thrives off of momentum and energy," Wilson said. "That’s something that I try to bring to the table, so I guess you can say that it’s even more important for me to do that and try to lift the team up any way I can."

RELATED: WILL LATEST INJURY PUT STAMKOS BE IN JEOPARDY VERSUS CAPS?

Wilson has worked his way into a top-line role as a player with top-six skill to go with his physical prowess. It's a combination few players can match in today's NHL which makes him such a valuable asset for Washington.

Can he still be as effective with no crowd and if not, how will this change Washington's forward makeup? It's a question the team needs to answer very quickly.

"I think there will definitely be times when it gets a little bit quiet out there," Wilson said, "But I guess we’ll just pretend that we’re playing in a rink that has a little less atmosphere than we’re privileged to have in DC.”

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Alex Ovechkin passes Sidney Crosby for most playoff goals since 2008

Alex Ovechkin passes Sidney Crosby for most playoff goals since 2008

Alex Ovechkin’s first-period goal didn’t just give the Capitals an early 1-0 lead over the Islanders – it knocked Sidney Crosby off his throne too.

Ovechkin’s score became his 66th career playoff goal. Since his postseason debut in 2008, the Great Eight now ranks first in the league in playoff goals and passed Crosby with 65.

Just 56 seconds into Game 2 of the Capitals’ first-round playoff series with the Islanders, Ovi controlled a loose puck that bounced off his skate, setting up an unassisted backhander that slipped past Semyon Varlamov for the early lead. 

The goal was his first of the playoffs, and he loved every bit of it.

In all-time playoff goals, Ovechkin now ties for 20th in the NHL with Joe Nieuwendyk and Denis Savard and trails Crosby who ranks 19th overall with 68 goals. Ovi didn’t make his playoff debut until the 2007-2008 season while Crosby had the edge with a 2006-2007 appearance and racked up two more career tallies. 

However, with the Penguins now eliminated from the playoffs, Ovechkin has a shot at passing Crosby once again.

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In The Loop: Capitals pregame soccer volley, Kevin Durant returns to the court

In The Loop: Capitals pregame soccer volley, Kevin Durant returns to the court

First up in our look around the sports world, there's been no shortage of entertaining moments from the NBA bubble. Listen, these guys have to find ways to keep things exciting and you certainly count on Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell to do just that.

Following Utah's 118-112 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, Jazz guard Rayjon Tucker's postgame interview was interrupted by Mitchell pouring a full water bottle on Tucker's head. Impressively, Tucker was still able to answer the question despite his meddling teammate. That's a true professional.
 

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Got ‘em! #WholeNewGame

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Meanwhile, in the NHL bubble, the Washington Capitals continue their pregame antics with a little soccer ball volley. Although it's all fun and games until someone busts the light in the ceiling out. For real though, who in the heck put that light there?! As the expression goes, you break it, you buy it.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CDzOD-WA-3M/?igshid=1aesefxq1pewx

Lastly, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant looks solid after he was spotted back on the court playing some pickup with friends. Durant is still rehabbing an Achilles injury that he suffered back in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals while a member of the Golden State Warriors.