Tom Wilson is barely 19 years old. Most kids his age spend their Friday nights drinking at parties in their precious time off from contributing nothing at all to society. Yeah, you know who you are.
Wilson, though, is bettering our world — he’s a hockey player after all — and he made his NHL debut Friday night. Granted, he skated a team low 6:24, but he threw a few nice hits and pushed some Rangers around after the whistle — typical fourth line stuff. His play wasn’t particularly interesting. The game it came in, though, was. The Caps won game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in overtime to take a 3-2 series lead.
“It was unbelievable — chills,” Wilson told me of his debut, repeating a version of that line countless times while standing in the far corner of the Capitals locker room at Verizon Center. “It was everything I imagined; it was a dream come true.”
Game five of the Capitals-Rangers series was just as taut as the preceding four, but the Caps seemed to have the upper hand from the second period on. Still, it took until overtime for the game to be decided– and by none other than the Caps’ much-maligned bad boy, Mike Ribeiro.
Often known as a hot-head weak on the faceoff dot and prone to bad penalties, Ribeiro was the opposite of that on Friday night. Ribeiro won 70% of his faceoffs– many of them crucial defensive-zone draws– and drove play better than any other Caps forward. His pestering of Brian Boyle drew the penalty that led to Joel Ward’s tying goal, and his relentless occupation of Lundqvist’s net led to a pivotal game-winner.
You wanted CRASH THE NET? I give you MIKE RIBEIRO.