The Pregame: Tom Wilson is Back!

michael banner 2After some big news hit this morning all eyes were on today’s morning skate in Minnesota to see whether Tom Wilson was a part of the line rushes and if so, which line he’ll be on. We got your answer and a whole lot more to get you ready for tonight’s tilt against the Minnesota Wild which kicks off a four-game road trip. 

Here is the man of the hour, the man of the night, as he takes the ice for morning skate.

With the Caps on a back-to-back, Pheonix Copley was in the starter’s net which means he’ll get tonight’s game while Braden Holtby will get tomorrow’s game in Winnipeg. Reported by Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post, here is how the Caps took initial line rushes.

As you can see, Wilson is back where he belongs on the top line alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. Wilson began the season serving a 20-game suspension until a neutral arbitrator reduced it to 14 games. In all, Wilson missed the first 16 games of the season but now he can look ahead. The top three forward lines are the same as they were back in the playoffs when the Caps did the thing. Welcome back Tom Wilson!

At the end of morning skate, Wilson led the stretches.

The matchup:

All this Tom Wilson news is great and all but remember, the Caps do play a game tonight. They’ll be up against Bruce Boudreau and the Minnesota Wild. Boudreau will always be remembered for being one of the catalysts in the Rock the Red era. Although the Caps came up short repeatedly each spring, Boudreau was the bench boss behind some solid Capitals teams that helped capture the heart of D.C. and turn it into a hockey town. This was back when Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were basically kids!

The Caps will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak that they suffered over the weekend on their home ice to the Blue Jackets and the Coyotes. Although they are riding that skid, the Capitals earned five points in the five-game homestand with an overtime loss to the Stars and big wins against the Oilers and Penguins.

The Wild will be a tough matchup. The team has yet to suffer a regulation loss at home, posting a 5-0-2 record. Their strengths are the penalty kill with an 86% success rate but they will be tested with a lethal Caps power play unit that has found the back of the net in four consecutive games.

Player matchup:

Mikael Granlund vs. Evgeny Kuznetsov 

This battle of the centers will be interesting. Granlund leads the Wild with 10 goals and eight assists and has been a key contributor to a team that sits just three points behind first place Nashville in the Western Division. Granlund scored four goals in their last three games, all wins for the Wild, including twice against Anaheim on Friday and a goal on Sunday in a win over St. Louis.

Kuznetsov leads the Caps with 20 points thanks to six goals and 14 assists and has had an impact on the top line since the playoffs. If Alex Ovechkin didn’t win the Conn Smythe Trophy, the award would’ve most likely been bestowed on Kuznetsov as he led the Caps with 32 points and 20 assists to go along with 12 goals, including the Game 6 goal at Pittsburgh that punched the Capitals ticket to the third round.

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