WASHINGTON, D.C. — There’s a major spotlight on the Washington Capitals season opener vs. the New York Rangers, which is stacking up to be a divisional showdown with perhaps a mix of unfinished business from last season. However, Tom Wilson doesn’t want much to do with the drama.
The 27-year-old said that his priorities lay elsewhere heading into Game 1, and that he’s not dwelling too much on the Blueshirts’ odyssey that saw major fallout over the last few months.
On May 3, Wilson was involved in a scrum in front of the Capitals crease with Pavel Buchnevich. During the pushing and shoving, Artemi Panarin jumped on Wilson’s back, leading the gritty forward to turn and throw the Rangers star down to the ice. Panarin left the game with an injury that ultimately ended his season early. Meanwhile, Wilson only received a fine for roughing Buchnevich and wasn’t disciplined for his encounter with Panarin.
On May 5, a bench brawl and several fights broke out as Washington faced off against New York yet again. The Rangers also released a statement criticizing George Parros for not suspending No. 43 and calling Wilson’s actions a “horrifying act of violence.” In the days that followed, New York cleaned out the front office, firing head coach David Quinn, general manager Jeff Gorton and president John Davidson.
Chris Drury took over as the new GM and hired Gerard Gallant as the team’s new bench boss. Meanwhile, the Blueshirts added a handful of tough guys over the offseason, bringing Ryan Reaves, Barclay Goodrow and Jarred Tinordi on board.
“I mean, the whole summer just seemed to be one thing after another. I don’t know you know what the real goal is behind it all,” Wilson said of the Rangers.
READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals’ Wilson Opens Up About Incident With Panarin
Heading into 2021-22, Wilson is eager to take his game to the next level and take a major step forward in his game beyond physicality. That being said, dropping the gloves isn’t something he wants to necessarily partake in on Wednesday.
“All I can really focus on is our room, our team, our organization and I’m having a big physical first night with the Rangers isn’t where we want to be this year,” Wilson said. “You know we have a lot of goals. I want to score goals I want to be a leader, I wanna take on more responsibility and get our team to the playoffs and hopefully more.”
Head coach Peter Laviolette agreed, saying that there was a conversation about the Capitals’ approach to the opener and that they want to be the more disciplined team.
that entails we will be ready to play. At the end of the day, we got to make sure we walk out with the win and the two points but I can’t tell you exactly how the game will play out but we’ll be ready.”
“Probably in hand in hand. Tom plays a physical game and so that start of his makeup with him as a player. With regard to the game tonight… we just talked about being ready for the game,” Laviolette said, adding, “I think the most important thing is there’s gonna be physicality, I don’t know exactly how it’ll go. We’d like to see more power plays… There’s two points at stake, we don’t know where those two points lay at the end of the season. So we’ll be ready to fight for two points.”
Overall, Wilson is approaching Wednesday’s tilt as he would any other.
“My job is to play my game. You know, that’s great we got a lot of good players in this room that can make things happen out there and capitalize on that,” Wilson said. “Emotions are going to be high I’m sure and you got to stay disciplined like any other night.”