The Boston Bruins are plenty familiar with Tom Wilson, and now they’re going to see him often and with a lot on the line.
Wilson’s checkered history of questionable and oftentimes egregious hits has made him one of the most controversial players in the NHL. And now, the Bruins will have at least four — and possibly as many as seven — games against Wilson and the Washington Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Bruins team president Cam Neely on Wednesday detailed how the Bruins have to approach playing Wilson.
“He’s not flying under the radar from our perspective, everyone knows what kind of player he is,” Neely told reporters during a video conference. “He plays hard and he’ll take the body. We have to expect that, I don’t think that’s going to change. We also need to focus on how we need to play and what we need to do to be successful. We have to be smart. More importantly, we’ve got to be careful with their power play. We’ve got to try to stay out of the box as much as possible.”
In addition to Wilson, the Capitals are an exceptionally physical team. Even their star player, Alex Ovechkin, has a propensity for using his body.
“Rightfully so (you have to adapt, Wilson is) a unique player in the league,” Neely said. “Their team does present some challenges, they’re a physical team. If you look at our matches this year, I think we handled that very well. Obviously, the (Brandon) Carlo injury aside, I think our team, all teams have to be prepared to play any style any night. You don’t pick your opponents, you just prepare for them as they come and worry about your own game.
“I think that’s something we’ve tried to do over the course of my time here, is be the best that we can be, and address some areas of need and fill some holes as we go along throughout the season, try to identify them. Be really honest about them if you have some needs, and then go to war. That’s honestly what it comes down to. You’ve got to have everyone in and ready to chip in.”
Game 1 of Bruins-Capitals is set for Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET.