Tom Wilson Is All Grown Up

Posted April 20, 2017

(Caps Outsider)

The NHL playoffs are truly unique.  Hockey is a sport where the level and intensity of play increases dramatically during the race for the Stanley Cup.  Football must be intense from the first snap of the season since there are only 16 scheduled games.  Baseball moves at a snail’s pace, playoffs or not. And basketball is the only sport that can even remotely parallel the depth and fury of playoff hockey.

With that in mind, we expect that Alexander Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and, the multi-cup winner Justin Williams, will be in the forefront trying to get the job done for the Caps.  Their experience and fervor should act as a catalyst to raise the team to the next level, but the playoffs are a strange animal with an erratic life all their own.  Pucks take bizarre, spastic bounces, OT becomes the norm, and unlikely, unexpected heroes emerge—enter, Tom Wilson.

Caps fans already know that Wilson is a passionate player.  During the regular 2016-17 season he racked up 133 penalty minutes, almost tripling Dmitry Orlov with the second highest PIM on the team at 51.  Wilson also ranks 3rd the NHL behind Nashville’s Cody McLeod with 145 and league leader Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki with 154.  Wilson plays with reckless abandon and leaves it all on the ice, sometimes in the box, but he’s certainly unafraid to go a round with anyone at anytime.

In the past few games, fans have seen a different Tom Wilson.  Perhaps, a more mature player, but the passion remains.  Wilson scored the winning goal in OT in game one against the Leafs.  In games 2 and 3 we saw a fast, strong Wilson. He emerged as one of the only Caps that could parallel the speed and intensity of the youthful, determined Leafs.  Coach Barry Trotz recognized his relentless effort and moved him to the third line to play alongside Andre Burakovsky and Lars Eller.

It was a move that certainly paid off.  In a span of 15 seconds during the first period in game four, Wilson saved a goal by diving into the net behind Braden Holtby and then sped down the ice to score a re-direct from Eller at the other end.  It was spectacular. He also scored another goal for a total of two goals on the night, all in front of his family and home town crowd in Toronto.

With his new found confidence;  look for Wilson to rely more on his skill than his fists in the future.  I think he will definitely be a positive force for the Caps in the playoffs and beyond.  Yes, Caps fans, I think our little Willy has finally grown up.

Let’s Go Caps!

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