After beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Washington Capitals are moving on to the Stanley Cup Final. Their opponents, the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
There has been a lot of discussion on whether Capitals forward Tom Wilson should have fought Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn in a crucial game seven. In the past, I’ve been critical of Wilson, but in this instance, I am going to defend him.
During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there aren’t a lot of fights. No one wants to get assessed an instigator penalty and give up an unnecessary power play goal. Some questioned the timing of the fight. Statistically, Wilson for Coburn isn’t an even trade.
Was this the right move by Wilson? My answer is yes.
At the 12:59 mark of the first period, there was a post-whistle scrum in the Lightning crease. During the melee, Coburn ripped Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov’s jersey off and skated towards Wilson, taunting him. Coburn disrespected Wilson and the Capitals. This action required a response. Coburn was begging for a beat down.
The on-ice officials stopped Wilson from engaging Corburn. Wilson was lucky he wasn’t given a 10-minute misconduct or thrown out of the game for abusing an official.
Wilson and Coburn were assessed two-minute minors for unsportsmanlike conduct. Cooler heads didn’t prevail. In the box, both players continued jawing at each other. No question, when the penalty was over a Donnybrook was coming.
When their two-minute minor penalties expired, both players stepped out on the ice and fought in front of the penalty boxes. Wilson got the better of Coburn. Okay, Wilson worked Coburn. It wasn’t even close. For their efforts, both players were assessed five-minute major for fighting.
After the fight, the Capitals bench showed their approval of Wilson’s efforts. Post-fight, the Capitals scored three unanswered goals. One could make the argument that the fight in question fired up his teammates.
Here’s the fight in question.