Capitals’ Tom Wilson had infuriated not only Islanders’ fans but also team members during the first round of the playoffs last spring. Wilson ran over Lubomir Visnovsky in the third game of the seven game series knocking him out of the series with a severe concussion.
The chances of New York Islanders letting go of the incident seemed slim this season with Coach Barry Trotz forewarning Wilson about some kind of retaliation from the Islanders. Wilson was charged a minor for the incident and did not receive any punishment for the action. The Capitals went on to win the seven game series.
In their first face off with the Islanders since that tragic incident, Wilson found himself the center of attention on the ice on Monday. Right from the start of the game, Eric Boulton tried to goad Wilson into a fight. Barely seven minutes had ticked by when Boulton skipped a shift with his line and tried to provoke Wilson to a fight. But the 21 year old did not respond. Then, Scott Mayfield jumped on the ice to provoke a fight, but again Wilson refused.
Wilson later told the media that he thought that everyone would have forgotten about last year, but it seems he was wrong. Boulton and his team mates didn’t let any chance go by to provoke a fight with the Capitals.
Mayfield and Liam O’Brien exchanged punches right after the initial scuffle during the first period. The tension on the ice seemed to have subsided, but at the sixth minute, Boulton got called for a penalty on Wilson.
Wilson would have definitely answered the bell. However, Coach Trotz had forewarned Wilson that the Islanders would be gunning for him in the game. He told him to stay on guard during the game.
Despite the animosity shown against him, Wilson kept his cool throughout the game. He assisted on a goal that put Capitals up 2-0. He played good two-way hockey for 20 minutes without attempting to retaliate against the Islanders especially Boulton.
Boulton later remarked that Wilson kept turning him down. He wasn’t interested in making any move and probably was scared to death. But Wilson said that he didn’t think there was any point in fighting. He said that he just didn’t feel the need to pay any attention to the guy.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz insisted that Wilson stay out of the penalty box this season and play a more varied role. However, the Islanders were not in a mood to let the young winger do that. They seemed more intent on reviving the hostility from five months ago when the Capitals had ousted the Islanders in seven games.
Boulton said that Wilson threw big hits in the previous season’s playoffs, some cheap shots, and also knocked out one of their best defensemen during that series. They can’t forget that kind of stuff easily while on the ice. Will fans get to see Boulton vs Wilson any time soon? Let’s keep watching and find out.