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Tom Wilson defends big hit on Jonathan Marchessault

Tom Wilson defends big hit on Jonathan Marchessault

LAS VEGAS—Tom Wilson defended his third period hit on Jonathan Marchessault following Monday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, saying he believes it was “a good, clean hit.”

Golden Knights Coach Gerard Gallant disagreed, calling the hit “real late.” Gallant also said he thought it warranted a major penalty; Wilson was assessed a minor for interference after the officials huddled to discuss the play.

“We were upset about it,” Gallant said.

“It was a big hit. Wilson is a great hockey player. He’s a competitive guy. He’s an old-school player. For me it’s a late hit. We’re going to stand up for our players. Marchessault is one of our stars and we don’t want to see that happen.”

“When I see it live, I didn’t see much of it,” Gallant added. “But when you watch it in replay, and you see how late he hits Marchessault and, for me, it should have been a major penalty. Again, when you watch it live you don’t see that. But when you see it in the video, he hit him real late and real hard.”

The play occurred with the score tied 4-4. Marchessault made a pass in the neutral zone and continued to track the puck for a moment. Wilson (6 foot 4, 218-pounds) rocked Marchessault (5 foot 9, 174-pounds) with a shoulder-to-shoulder hit that knocked the first line winger to the ice.

The league reviews every hit from every game.     

“He might have been a little bit surprised by it but it wasn’t an aggressive hit,” Wilson said. “He looked fine at the end when he was yelling at me from the bench and wooing. It was just a hockey play.”

Asked if he thinks he might hear from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, Wilson said he didn’t know. Wilson has been suspended three times this season, dating back to the preseason. His most recent ban was for three games in the second round for a hit that broke the jaw of Pittsburgh rookie Zach Aston-Reese.

“I don’t know these days,” Wilson said, asked if he expects to hear from the NHL. “I believe it was a good, clean hit. It’s playoff hockey. There’s going to be big hits. It’s a contact sport, so that’s what I saw.”

Wilson added: “Right after he got up, he said, ‘Good hit.’ It’s the Stanley Cup Final out there. There’s going to be hits.”

Caps Coach Barry Trotz said after the game that he expects Wilson to be available for Game 2 on Wednesday.

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CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST: GAME 1 IN VEGAS

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Key Caps questions: How will Samsonov look in his first season in North America?

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Scout Pruski

Key Caps questions: How will Samsonov look in his first season in North America?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: How will Ilya Samsonov play in his first season in North America?

What else is there to say about Samsonov's time in the KHL? In the limited action he saw playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, he looked every bit the starting goalie the Caps hoped he would one day be when they drafted him in the first round of the 2015 draft. Now, finally, he is ready to start his North America career.

What makes the transition from Europe to North America difficult?

First, Samsonov is adjusting to a new country and a new language. Second, the workload in North America is much larger, even in practice.

"He probably saw more shots today than he saw in a month of practice in Russia and this was nothing," director of player development Steve Richmond said during development camp. "For me, that's the biggest thing for him is to learn how to practice in North America."

And then there's the rink size. The game is faster for goalies in North America because of the smaller rink. Scoring chances develop much more quickly and Samsonov will also be dealing with different angles. It also means dealing with a lot more traffic in front of the net. He is going to have to learn more how to track the puck through a screen and to react much more quickly.

I tried to watch Samsonov closely in development camp. His size definitely stood out. He takes up a lot of the net, but is still very athletic and very quick in and out of the butterfly. As big as he is, however, he seems to play very low to compensate for his size which leaves him vulnerable up high at times. He would make a handful of very good saves, then let in a soft one glove side or in the corners because he was playing too low.

Those areas of his game can be improved on with practice so long as you have the skill and Samsonov certainly has that.

Samsonov has been elite at every level he has played and there is no reason to think that won't continue in the AHL. Having said that, there is just too much he needs to adjust to expect him to be ready for the NHL at this point. He needs as much playing time as possible at the AHL level before he is ready. As long as that's where he spends the season, I expect him to put up similar numbers to the 2.31 GAA, .926 save percentage he managed last season in the KHL.

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Oddsmakers give three Capitals the chance to win MVP in 2018-19

Oddsmakers give three Capitals the chance to win MVP in 2018-19

There are no signs of Alex Ovechkin slowing down heading into his first season after winning a Stanley Cup. Bovada just released their latest odds for the Hart Memorial Trophy (the NHL’s Most Valuable Player Award) and Ovechkin was tied with the third-best odds to win in all of the NHL at 10/1.

He was joined by two other Washington Capitals, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov both at 50/1 odds. 

Here are all the odds for the top 11 players:

Connor McDavid          10/3
Sidney Crosby              13/2
Auston Matthews        10/1
Alex Ovechkin               10/1
Jon Tavares                   10/1
Taylor Hall                     15/1
Nikita Kucherov            15/1
Nathan MacKinnon      15/1
Mark Scheifele              15/1
Anze Kopitar                  18/1
Evgeni Malkin                18/1

The only two players ahead of ‘The Great 8’ are the 21-year-old McDavid and dreaded rival Crosby.

Even with the immense amount of alcohol that has been consumed in the past two months, Ovechkin is still commanding respect in Vegas. It is hard not to when he turns around these intense offseason workouts. At 32, Ovechkin led the NHL in scoring with 49 goals a year ago, the seventh such time he has done so. 

Already the 2018 Conn Smythe winner has three MVP trophies to his name (one more than Crosby) and there is no telling what to expect now that the 11-time All-Star has a Stanley Cup title. 

In his 11 years in the league, Backstrom has never received any votes for the Hart Memorial Trophy. Kuznetsov only has done so once and that was in the 2015-16 season. 

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