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Is Tom Wilson being targeted by referees?


Is Tom Wilson being targeted by referees?

Back on Tuesday, in his popular 30 Thoughts column, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that “several teams” have complained about Tom Wilson’s hits and that a meeting with the NHL’s Player Safety Department had been requested.

After taking a roughing penalty on Antoine Roussel early in the second period of the Caps’ 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars Friday night, Wilson is beginning to wonder if he’s being targeted by NHL referees.

“Yeah, it’s getting pretty frustrating,” Wilson said. “I know when I came into the league three years ago I don’t think that would have been looked at as even close to a penalty.”

Wilson was referring to joining a scrum in front of the Dallas net after teammate Michael Latta was tied up while battling for a loose puck. After the whistle Wilson entered the fray and grabbed Roussel.

“I come in, I bear hug (Roussel), no punches thrown,” Wilson said. “It’s a scrum, and I get taken out of that. I guess I’ve got to take it as another learning curve.”

It marked the second time in four games that Wilson went to the box without taking an opponent with him. Last week in Philadelphia, Wilson received two minutes for charging defenseman Nick Schultz. Wilson appeared to accelerate into that hit and it’s possible the Flyers were concerned enough to make a phone call to the league.

Wilson, who has 23 penalty minutes but just one fighting major, said he just wants referees to see what’s in front of them, noting Roussel’s reputation as a feisty competitor who racked up more than 200 penalty minutes two seasons ago with the Stars.    

“I know that guy over there is not an angel,” Wilson said. “He’s been hooking and punching all night and I just go in there. It’s unfortunate to put the team down (a man) again, but I’ve just got to maybe talk to the refs and see what they think and what they’re calling on that.

“I mean, a couple plays later I get hauled down. I think there’s a lot of stuff that could have been a lot worse than that (roughing penalty) going on the entire night. I mean, I don’t think we had a power play, so to say they played completely clean hockey all night and I get that penalty, it’s just kind of frustrating.”

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals Friday Six-Pack: How many goals will Ovi end up with?

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning to win the Eastern Conference

4 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning to win the Eastern Conference

The Capitals dominated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 on Wednesday to claim the conference crown and a spot in the Stanley Cup Final. Washington took an early lead and never looked back.

Here is how they bucked their Game 7 history to win.

62 seconds

The last time these two teams met in Tampa, the Lightning struck just 19 seconds into the game and it set the tone for the entire contest. This time, it was the Caps who struck early.

A big hit by Tom Wilson in the neutral zone created a turnover that started the rush for the Caps. Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Ovechkin for the one-timer and he fired it past Vasilevskiy just 62 seconds into the game.

Andre Burakovsky’s big night

Injury limited Burakovsky to just 56 games this season. He suffered another injury in Game 2 of the first round and did not return until Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. He was a healthy scratch in Game 5 and was talking about talking to a sports psychologist over the summer. He had not recorded a point this postseason heading into Wednesday game.

And somehow, he rattled off two goals to lead the Capitals.

The start of the second period was all Tampa Bay. The Lightning were dictating the play and buzzing around Braden Holtby. They outshot the Caps 8-1 to start the frame, but Burakovsky got the momentum right back as he stole the puck away from Dan Girardi and fired a beautiful shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy. John Carlson sprung him on a breakaway later in the second period which he put through the five-hole of Vasilevskiy for his second goal of the game.

Braden Holtby is suddenly unbeatable

The last goal Holtby allowed was 33 seconds into the second period…of Game 5. After not recording a single shutout at all this season, he blanked the Lightning in both Game 6 and Game 7 for back-to-back shutouts.

The Lightning had their opportunities. They pushed and pushed hard all game long, especially in the second period as they recorded eight of the first nine shots on goal of the period.

It didn’t matter.

Holtby was up to the task as he dominated the Lightning yet again, even turning aside a breakaway from Alex Killorn to keep the clean sheet. He made 60 straight saves and did not allow a goal for 159:27. This is just the fifth time in NHL history a goalie recorded a shutout in both Game 6 and Game 7 of a playoff series.

Team defense

The Lightning had their chances, but they were frustrated all night long by the all-in defense the Caps played. As good as Holtby was, he let up a lot of juicy rebounds early on. But Tampa Bay could not get a stick to any of them because the Caps defense beat them to the puck all game long.

The Caps recorded 15 blocked shots in the game. Devante Smith-Pelly took a shot block off the back of the neck, T.J. Oshie took one off the boot.

This team was all-in all night long and it frustrated what was the league’s top offense.

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Did Bryce Harper predict the Caps-Knights Stanley Cup Final?


Did Bryce Harper predict the Caps-Knights Stanley Cup Final?

On May 1, the Capitals were in the middle of their second-round series vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins. Everyone was skeptical about whether or not they'd be able to overcome the looming second-round hump. 

Everyone except Bryce Harper that is.

On May 1, Harper tweeted this: 

Moments after the Caps' Game 7 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Eastern Conference, fans remembered Harper's prescient tweet.

Harper is a Las Vegas native and has been an outspoken Knights supporter since the beginning of the season.

However, as one of D.C.'s most beloved athletes, it's tough to imagine a scenario in which he roots against the Caps in a series that's so monumental for the entire city.

He hasn't announced which team he's pulling for yet, but regardless of who wins the Cup Bryce Harper will end up pretty happy.


Caps headed to Cup: First Cup Final in 20 years
How the Caps beat the Bolts: 4 reasons
Ovi and the Cup: 13 years in the making