Got a note from colleague Nick Cristiano, a crack copy editor whose only weakness is that he’s a huge Rangers fan. Nick was not happy.
He asked the question that was on everybody’s mind after watching the first five minutes of Wednesday night’s Capitals-Rangers game when there were six fights.
“The NHL should be so proud,” Nick said sarcastically. “What did the league think was going to happen?”
When Tom Wilson escaped without a suspension for his dangerous behavior against the Rangers on Monday, New York players basically decided to take matters into their own fists. It was nasty out there, and an embarrassment to the league.
But now Washington gets the Flyers for two games. No reason to expect similar fireworks, but the Flyers — like the Rangers — are another team with nothing to lose.
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Flyers will face old friend Tom Wilson next
It’s a little disappointing to hear the line “Yeah, Tom Wilson’s a thug, but you know 30 other general managers would love to have him.” I sure hope not.
Wilson’s history of goonery goes back to his rookie year when he and Wayne Simmonds fought in a battle that ignited a line brawl and resulted in Flyers goalie Ray Emery beating the snot out of counterpart Braden Holtby. Good times.
Later that season, Wilson tried to ram Brayden Schenn through the boards at the Wells Fargo Center, starting another donnybrook with Simmonds. Neither of those compares to what Wilson did this week.
Flyers fans spent most of Wednesday evening wondering how Shayne Gostisbehere was suspended for two games, but Wilson got only a $5,000 fine for his actions.
Wilson, who has more penalty minutes against the Flyers (96) than any other team, has been suspended five times. This week should have been No. 6.
The idea that it’s going to take a devastating injury for the NHL to hold him accountable for his recklessness is frightening, though that’s the message the Rangers got. Perhaps a pool of blood on the ice will suffice, like if Artemi Panarin would have hit at a more severe angle when Wilson flung him down on Monday.
Wilson is not a hard-nosed player. He’s dirty and menacing. Ryan Getzlaf, Simmonds, Pat Maroon and Sean Couturier are (for the most part) hard-nosed players. None are angels, but none would pick up a smaller player by the hair and toss him to the ice.
»YouTube Video: Wanna slow down Tom Wilson? Do what Ray Emery did in 2016.
The Flyers won two Stanley Cups largely by intimidation and the threat of violence, but that was more than 40 years ago. Not asking for the Ice Capades out there. A good clean body check or even a fight in response to a slash on a teammate is always encouraged.
Panarin will miss the final three games as a result of Monday’s melee. Gostisbehere will miss two and forfeit more than $77,000 in salary.
Wilson and the Capitals? They enter Thursday ahead of Pittsburgh on a tiebreaker for the top seed in the East Division.
Wilson left Wednesday’s game in the first period with an upper-body injury that had the feel of the Capitals just wanting to get him out of the tempest. We’ll see if he plays this weekend.
But after Wilson’s mammoth 20-game suspension in 2018-19, the NHL noted Wilson had been cited four times in his last 105 games, “an unprecedented frequency of suspensions in the history of the Department of Player Safety.” He served 16 of the 20 games, and was reimbursed two games’ worth of salary upon appeal.
Wilson’s worst videos
(Videos of the hits that earned Tom Wilson a suspension, and the number of games he was benched.)
2017-18: St. Louis’ Robert Thomas (2 games; Thomas did not miss time)
2017-18: St. Louis’ Sammy Blais (4 games; Blais did not miss time)
2017-18: Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese (3 playoff games; Aston-Reese missed final 3 playoff games with a broken jaw)
2018-19: St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist (20 games, served 16; Sundqvist missed 8 games with a concussion)
2020-21: Boston’s Brandon Carlo (7 games; Carlo missed 10 games with an unspecified injury)
Things to know
Figure out the NHL’s reasoning for dishing out fines and suspensions and win a prize. Gostisbehere gets two games for boarding, a day after Wilson gave the NHL another black eye.
Who woulda thought the Flyers would miss Tyler Pitlick so badly? Sam Carchidi examines what in the world is wrong with the Flyers’ penalty kill.
Despite the loss, Game No. 500 was a special night for Brian Elliott. “It’s not ideal the way it turned out, but I’m really proud of the fact that I was able to reach that milestone. Really happy that my wife and kids were there.”
Capitals star TJ Oshie lost his father earlier this week. We wish the family peace, and humbly share this video from after Oshie won the Stanley Cup a couple years ago. Hug those important in your life, and if that’s not possible, give ‘em a call.
TJ Oshie/dad/YouTube ... https://twitter.com/FriedgeHNIC/status/1389587741638332424
Tomorrow: Flyers at Washington, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Saturday: Flyers at Washington, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Monday: New Jersey at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NBCSP) — end Flyers’ regular season
May 19: NHL regular season ends
TBD: Start of NHL playoffs
May 21-June 6: IIHF World Championships (Latvia)
TBD: Draft lottery determined
July 17: Deadline for clubs to submit protection lists for expansion draft, 5 p.m.
July 21: Seattle expansion draft
July 23: NHL draft, Round 1
July 24: NHL draft, Rounds 2-7
July 28: Unrestricted/Restricted Free Agent signings permitted, noon
From the mailbag
I’ve said for a while the NHL needs to stop pretending there is any logic behind their suspension process and just embrace the randomness. Build a giant wheel, like on the Price is Right. The player spins it and whatever amount the wheel lands on is his suspension.
All I can say is a guy like Elliott deserved better this year from the team in front of him. Yeah he’s had a bad game here and there but overall he’s been the kind of goalie that would have been fine with a halfway decent team and defense in front of him. Same goes for Carter. I don’t blame either goalie for this years debacle.
The real problem is @comcast needs to sell the team. If only they cared like Mr. Snider did.
The Rangers fired their President and GM for “underachieving.” How do Scott, Camillo, and Fletcher still have jobs for a team 5 points BEHIND the Rangers and 15 points out of a playoff spot?