Tom Wilson is never afraid to drop the gloves, but he wasn’t happy about having to do so on Tuesday.
In the second period against the Buffalo Sabres, Wilson unleashed a big hit on forward Sam Reinhart. Defenseman Jake McCabe took exception, but Wilson was not really sure why.
“The hit kind of came as the play developed and I finished my check,” Wilson told reporters after the game. “I wasn’t even thinking about fighting there, I just wanted to kind of play with energy and try to get the guys going that way.”
You can watch the hit here.
Reinhart has the puck and Wilson hits him with a shoulder check. The point of contact is Reinhart’s shoulder. It is by every definition a clean check. Yet, Wilson was called to task for it.
“I don’t know why I have to fight in that instance,” Wilson said. “To me, that’s textbook. Everything I’ve been told about instigating, that’s what that is. It’s frustrating from that standpoint.”
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The fight resulted only in matching majors for fighting as McCabe was not issued a penalty of instigating.
This is a big season for Wilson as he needs to show he can provide the team more than just his fists. We saw how much of a difference maker he can be in the playoffs when he played a phenomenal series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The third line of Wilson, Lars Eller and Chandler Stephenson has also been one of the team's best over the past few games. Losing Wilson for five minutes takes that line out of its rhythm which hurts the team offensively.
It is no secret that the Caps want more offensive production from Wilson this season. It will be hard for him to do that if he has to drop the gloves and spend five minutes in the penalty box after every big, legal hit to an opponent.