JustinWilliamsGame5RobCarr

Photo: Rob Carr

After Monday night’s anarchic attempt at a hockey game, the Washington Capitals held a 3-0 series lead. In 180 minutes of hockey, the Philadelphia Flyers took 96 PIMs. Washington’s power play was eight for 17. The Caps, it seemed, were in for a long layover before facing the winner of the Rangers-Penguins series.

“Everything they’ve gotten to a point we’ve given them,” Wayne Simmonds said in the minutes after Game Three ended. “We’ve got to stay out of the box.”

The Flyers have done that the last two games, reducing Washington to five power plays in Games Four and Five. Without that boost, the Caps fell when the series shifted back to Verizon Center Friday night. They outshot the Flyers 44-11 — shot attempts were 82-27 — but lost the special teams battle. Philadelphia had six power plays while Washington’s deadly man-advantage unit was limited to three.

“We were in the box a lot,” Tom Wilson, who did not receive any infractions, said. “Yeah, we had a lot of shots, but we have to do a better job of getting to the interior and staying out of the box. If we play 60 minutes five-on-five, I don’t think you see that team standing up by the end of it.”

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Photo: Patrick Smith

Wednesday night during Game Four, Brayden Schenn got dangerous again. The Flyers forward cross-checked Evgeny Kuznetsov in the leg while the Caps’ leading scorer had his back turned. The play went unpenalized, but Schenn’s attempt to injure did not go unnoticed by several Caps.

Speaking to the press during the team’s off day, checking-line forward Tom Wilson shared his disgust.

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Late in the third period, Capitals forward Tom Wilson got checked in the head by Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning. As Wilson turned back to retrieve a Jason Chimera pass in the offensive zone, Manning hit Wilson in the head and shoulder with his left arm.

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PenaltyKillGameTwoRobCarr

Photo: Rob Carr

The Capitals penalty kill was the second-best unit in the league during the regular season, killing 85.2 percent of opponents’ chances. Yet on special teams, it was overshadowed by the power play, which finished fifth. While the PK doesn’t provide between-the-legs passes or booming one-timers, it has kept the Capitals in control of their first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Washington’s penalty kill is a perfect eight for eight. Going back to the last five games of the regular season, the opponents’ power plays have been stopped 21 times in a row. Despite outshooting the Capitals 61-54 overall in the first two games, the Flyers have scored just one goal. Washington has six, including three power-play goals, good for a 2-0 series lead.

“We got our butts on the line,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said after Saturday’s Game Two loss.

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Photo: Patrick Smith

Tom Wilson almost made it through a Caps-Flyers game without getting involved in something foolish. But with six minutes and 51 seconds left in a one goal playoff hockey game, Wilson decided to board defenseman Andrew McDonald. It was an obvious penalty.

Thankfully for Wilson, Wayne Simmonds, who led the Flyers in regular season goals (32), decided a late game comeback push was the perfect time to retaliate. Simmonds took a roughing penalty before he and Wilson decided to punch each other in the face, negating any advantage for Philly when they needed it most.

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Photo: Rob Carr

First impressions make a difference. In December of his rookie season, Tom Wilson made himself known to fans of the Philadelphia Flyers with a savage charge on forward Brayden Schenn. Since then, Wilson has been a marked man.

“We don’t want to be liked by them,” Wilson said of the Flyers Tuesday, two days before the Capitals face Philadelphia in Game One the opening round of the playoffs. “Hopefully, we can keep it that way, that they hate our guts.” Continue Reading

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Photo: @lo_web7

Tom Wilson is a cool dude, and we got another example of that from reader Lauren W. During the Caps recent road swing in Los Angeles, Lauren and her family went to Staples Center for the game.

I’ll let Lauren take it from here.

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Every Way In Which Tom Wilson Is or Is Not a Bust

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

On Monday, we published a smart and layered discussion by Myan Tran about Tom Wilson‘s development. That article comes after months of discussion among the RMNB staff on the same topic. That article and those discussions all seemed to revolve around the idea of a bust, a delightfully subjective and nebulous term that is also a function of expectations that vary based on whom you ask.

In a beautifully complex world of fractal mathematics and ASOIAF conspiracy theories, a yes/no debate about a divisive player is excessively stupid. The conversation quickly wanders off topic and into a battlefield. GIFs are deployed like explosive ordnance. Proxy wars are waged by strawmen.

But I come to you from above the fray to settle, once and for all, the Tom Wilson bust debate.

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Is Tom Wilson a Bust?

Tom Wilson at development camp

Photo: Chris Gordon

Myan Tran is a long-time RMNB reader. She writes from Northern Virginia to settle an argument we’ve been waging among ourselves for months.

A lot has been said about whether Tom Wilson has reached or will ever reach the potential expected of a first-round draft pick. When we start talking about whether Tom Wilson is a “bust” in comparison to his peers, the conversation always turns into “well, what is a bust and who are his peers?” We’ll talk about what a “bust” is later.

First, let’s talk about who Tom’s peers are.

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Tom Wilson’s Giant Hit on Nikita Zadorov

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With the Colorado Avalanche fighting for the final spot in the West and the Washington Capitals trying to get Braden Holtby his 47th win of the season, Friday’s late season game took on a furious pace, full of end-to-end action. The energetic play took a scary turn about five minutes into the second period when Tom Wilson unleashed an explosive hit on Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

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