Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Jan 20, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Anton Blidh (81) lays on the ice after a hit from Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Another Bruins-Capitals game, another night of Tom Wilson debate.

The Caps forward went under the microscope yet again on Thursday night after he walloped the Bruins’ Anton Blidh during the first period. Wilson was not penalized for the hit, which was the subject of the same social media discussion that always comes up when Wilson lays someone out. Blidh had to exit the game and was later ruled out with what the Bruins termed an upper-body injury.

Though Wilson doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt based on his history, and it’s understandable for Bruins fans to be upset when he hurts someone, this one’s clean. Violent, punishing, but clean.

Probably won’t stop people from rewatching the clip frame-by-frame at least 600 times. But the replay shows that it’s almost entirely shoulder-to-shoulder contact, and Blidh had left himself in a vulnerable position with the angle he took across the ice, anyway.

That doesn’t make Wilson any less predatory of a player. He was obviously looking to bully the smaller Blidh for wandering onto his train tracks. It just didn’t cross the line in this particular case.

  • You can see in the clip that the force of the hit caused Blidh’s head and neck to whip forward, and of course he toppled hard to the ice. The immediate concern would be a concussion, which can still be reported as an upper-body injury.

    If Blidh has to miss time or has any lingering effects from the hit, perhaps the discussion could change. No question it was a hard hit, perhaps unnecessarily so. But in this case, Wilson toed the line.

    In fact, if there’s any hit to be talked about after the game, it’s what Wilson’s teammate did.

  • Garnet Hathaway drills Brad Marchand

    Blidh wasn’t the only Bruin to leave the game early due to injury. Brad Marchand also had to exit with an upper-body injury after taking a dangerous hit from the Caps’ Garnet Hathaway, which you can watch above.

    Hathaway got two minutes for interference on the play. Marchand was attempting to play the puck in the corner and was already engaged with another opponent, and that’s when Hathaway swooped in and drove his forearm into Marchand’s back, sending him head-first into the boards.

    If anyone should get a call from player safety after the game, it’s Hathaway. He was penalized, so he didn’t go unchecked. We’ll see if the league feels the hit rose to the level of additional discipline.

  • McAvoy’s response

    How did the Bruins respond to Wilson’s latest antics? McAvoy delivered a hit of his own with similar force, to the Capitals’ Trevor van Riemsdyk.

    McAvoy also responded on the scoreboard, netting the game-winning goal with just 45 seconds left in regulation.

    Overall, the Bruins responded well in a tough matchup after Tuesday’s debacle against the Hurricanes. But thanks to Wilson and Hathaway, the health of Marchand and Blidh is a concern coming out of the game.

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