It’s almost like Willy relishes the hatred he’s getting from Islanders fans.
In game four, Caps winger Tom Wilson injured Islanders 38-year-old defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky with a clean hit behind the net. That threw gasoline on an already simmering fire — Kyle Okposo injured Eric Fehr the game before in another clean hit— and Visnovksy’s teammates came to his defense through a war of words in the media.
“He’s an idiot,” Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. “That guy runs around, he hits reckless. He jumps, leaves his feet. There’s no place for that.”
“We could have easily hit a lot of guys like that too,” captain John Tavares said.
On Thursday night, the Islanders looked to serve some frontier justice to Wilson.
Lubomir Visnovsky leaves the game after being checked by Tom Wilson in the second period. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
Last season, searching to make an impact as a rookie with limited ice time, Tom Wilson got himself into a lot of trouble, often making questionable hits and dropping the gloves whenever he got the chance. He finished the season with the seventh highest number of penalty minutes in the NHL. Now in his second season, and sometimes skating top line minutes under new head coach Barry Trotz, Wilson has moderated his game, becoming less of a wrecking ball and more of an agitator. In game four, however, the wrecking ball was back.
With Lubomir Visnovsky attempting to corral a loose puck behind his own net, Wilson came flying in, delivering a massive shoulder to chest blow. While Visnovsky was ravaged by the hit, the check appeared clean. The puck was there, Wilson never left his feet, and he hit Visnovsky square in the chest. Nevertheless, the refs took umbrage with the hit, calling Wilson for a change. The Islanders were outraged.
“He’s an idiot,” Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said of Wilson, according to the New York Post. “That guy runs around, he hits reckless. He jumps, leaves his feet. There’s no place for that.”
Photo: Mike Stobe
As luck would have it, the NHL mic’d up human wrecking ball Tom Wilson for Tuesday night’s playoff game between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders. Like the rest of the Caps universe, Wilson rather enjoyed Nicklas Backstrom‘s overtime game-winning goal. The only problem was he couldn’t tell who scored.
I love Joe Beninati‘s play-by-play. In fact, I may be his biggest fan. But during Tom Wilson’s crushing hit of Lubomir Visnovsky on Tuesday, the Caps needed someone else in the booth– someone experienced at describing pure carnage.
That man: former WWE commentator Jim Ross.
Since good ol’ J.R. couldn’t be at Nassau Coliseum last night, RMNB reader Sarah Waters was gracious enough to splice some of his classic commentary over Willy Baby’s big body check. Enjoy.
Tom Wilson has an issue with penalties. He draws a ton and commits a ton. On Tuesday he caught a kneeing penalty in the second period. No worries: the Capitals killed it with ease.
But immediately after leaving the Willy bin, Wilson executed the biggest hit we’ve seen these playoffs.
Poor Lubomir Visnovsky, repeated concussion victim, was skating with his head down and hunched over. Wilson stopped moving his legs but didn’t shy away from the hit.
Photo credit: Chris Gordon
In recent years, as the Capitals began to falter and the Wizards and Nationals rose to playoff status, the crowds at Verizon Center slowly shrank. Though the team announced its 264th consecutive sellout after game two, there have often been large swatches of empty purple seats in the last few years.
Now, the Caps are back in the playoffs. They have a new coach, a new mentality, and are confident that they can finally bring a Stanley Cup to Washington.
With the resurgence of the team, the fans have come back. On this Friday night, the crowd brought back memories of late-game Sergei Fedorov goals and the hope and promise of the electric, run and gun Caps. At one point during game two, the decibel level reached 112. For a lot of the night, the numbers were over 100, nearly breaching the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s permissible noise level exposure limits.
The Rock the Red spirit is back and it’s pushing the Capitals forward. The team knows it. Here’s what they said after the game.
Hockey can be a dangerous sport and tonight we got a reminder of that.
Late in the third period, Tom Wilson blocked a Danny DeKeyser point shot with the side of his head. The puck appeared to strike Wilson in the helmet. Wilson lied on the ice stunned after the impact. Capitals teammates, including Mike Green and Braden Holtby, raced to Wilson’s side.
It was a scary moment, but Wilson left the game under his own power.
Photo: Maggie D’Arcy
On Friday, the NHL announced that they were idiotically fining Tom Wilson $2,000 for diving. That’s probably okay with Wilson though because today he left Kettler Capitals Iceplex with about $2,000 worth of baked goods.
It was a decent trade-off.