The first two games of the season are in the books. What’s on your mind this week?
Paul O writes: When the big club will need to bring up one of the D men from Hershey, likely due to injury, would you expect HCTR to make handedness of the injured player be the deciding factor?
The deciding factor, no. While I do think it may be a consideration, I believe it will be a minor one. As of right now, it’s hard to see anyone other than Jonas Siegenthaler getting the first call up regardless of who gets injured. He would have been with the team to start the season if not for Tom Wilson’s suspension and the roster gymnastics the team had to go through to replace him.
Of the seven defensemen the Caps have now, four are left-handed shots (Michal Kempny, Dmitry Orlov, Brooks Orpik, Christian Djoos) and three are righties (John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Madison Bowey). That’s a pretty good balance. Even if one of the three righties is injured, that still leaves two. Maybe if the team had just two right-handed shots and an injury cut them down to one it would matter more. As it stands, I believe Todd Reirden will certainly be aware of what side the player shoots on, but it won’t make much of a difference in who he decides to call up.
Mark H writes: Should we expect any bad blood or extra chippy behavior from Vegas in the game on Wednesday due to the embarrassment we caused them by winning in 5 games?
Will there be some extra motivation in Wednesday’s game for Vegas? Absolutely. Books will be written about what the Golden Knights did in the team’s inaugural season, but the Caps spoiled the ending for the misfits of Vegas by dominating them in five games.
Considering the Knights found success last year in part by remembering the fact that they were the castoffs of every team they played against, it’s not hard to imagine how they will get up for Wednesday’s game.
As for bad blood, that really has not been Vegas’ style. They prefer to beat teams on the scoreboard than with their fists. Having said that, there’s still Ryan Reaves to think about and with no Tom Wilson on the ice, it’s not hard to imagine him taking a few liberties with players.
Mike H writes: Do you think Wilson's appeal will be successful in reducing the number of games to somewhere in the 10-15 game range?
Yes, but I do not think it will matter very much.
The first appeal will be heard by Gary Bettman. Bettman has heard six appeals since 2012 and has reduced two of them. Considering the NHL is currently dealing with a concussion lawsuit, he probably is none too pleased about Wilson continuing to draw attention to hits to the head. I have a hard time believing he will have much sympathy for Wilson.
The next step after that is a neutral arbitrator. That’s where Wilson will have a chance.
The argument over whether the hit was legal or not is over. It was illegal and the Department of Player Safety did a pretty thorough job diagraming why. But Wilson could have an argument over how harsh the punishment was.
In his career, Wilson has been suspended for two preseason games, four regular season games and three playoff games. Even if you argue the playoff games are weighted, going from three games to 20 is a pretty big leap.
It would not surprise me if a neutral arbitrator declares that was too much of a leap and cuts Wilson’s suspension down to that 10-15 game as you mentioned.
This, however, is a lengthy process and there’s no telling how long it will take to get to that point. In 2016, Dennis Wideman had a 20-game suspension reduced to 10 by a neutral arbitrator, but by that time he had already served 19 games. Apart from recuperating some money, the appeal did not help him much. I wonder if we are headed towards a similar resolution.
Jenny S writes: Orpik has more goals in his last 7 games than he had in the last 2 years... not really a question but just wanted to remind you.
Remember this one for trivia night: Who scored the first Stanley Cup Final game-winning goal for the Capitals? It wasn’t Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, Andre Burakovsky, Jakub Vrana, Lars Eller, Devante Smith-Pelly or John Carlson. It was Orpik.
Thanks for your questions! If you want to have your question answered on next week’s mailbag post, send it in to CapitalsMailbag@gmail.com
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