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.
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.
Tom Wilson‘s been his normal wrecking ball self tonight. Early in the game, he was ushered to the box along with Mark Fraser after both players committed roughing minors. The resulting 4-on-4 hockey led to a Karl Alzner goal.
Later in the period, Wilson laid out Eric Gelinas in the neutral zone. Gelinas’s airborne body then slammed into Brooks Laich. Ouch. I’m getting whiplash just looking at this.
Brooks Laich hadn’t scored since January 7. Since then the $4.5 million a year player had been a healthy scratch and now a fourth liner. That bottom line, though, is filled with rejected top-sixers rather than talentless scrubs — one member of the Sabres organization quipped that it was better than Buffalo’s first line. On Saturday night, that line — Laich, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson — added Washington’s fourth tally of the night, Laich’s first goal in two months.
“I sort of flashed back to the first goal I ever scored in the NHL,” Laich told reporters after the game. “It was in Montreal and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I got back to the bench and Glen Hanlon he says ‘congratulations.’ I was like ‘dude, I can’t stop smiling.’ He was like ‘good, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.’ This one sort of felt like that.”
In early January, Jenna Boyer stared at her computer intrigued. Hannah Delmonte, a fellow teenager at Woodgrove High School in Purcellville, Virginia, had asked Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho to prom via social media. Acho said yes, with a condition. He’d only go with her if she got 10,000 retweets. Delmonte’s tweet passed that number within a few hours. In February, Acho flew to Virgina and surprised Delmonte. It was one of those cute, amazing, feel-good, national stories.