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The National Hockey League met with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson Saturday night. After deliberation, they announced their decision shortly before 11 p.m. ET.
In their late-night news dump, the NHL’s Player Safety Department announced a seven-game suspension for Wilson after boarding Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo — who was in the middle of a puck battle with Jakub Vrana — during the first period of Boston’s 5-1 victory Friday night at TD Garden.
“On this play, the combination of Carlo’s battle with Vrana, his head being low while looking for the puck and Wilson’s angled approach combined to leave Carlo in a position where he is defenseless,” the league said in its video statement. “Through no fault of his own, [Carlo] is in a position where he’s unable to brace for contact, anticipate the hit or protect himself in any way from Wilson, who is approaching from outside his field of vision.”
Wilson claimed Carlo’s head wasn’t his principal point of contact. His coach, Peter Laviolette, echoed that sentiment in his postgame Zoom conference with Washington reporters. He doubled down on that statement the day after. Alex Ovechkin, fresh off a $5,000 fine for spearing Trent Frederic in the ‘Badgers’ on Wednesday, called the ruling a ‘joke.’
This is no laughing manner, though. Wilson got away without a penalty on Friday. Jarred Tinordi and Frederic came to Carlo’s aid with their separate bouts. The Bruins came together for a statement win.
Wilson will sit for seven games. Some may say that’s a little lenient after Carlo spent time in the hospital on Friday. At least some justice prevailed following the league’s ruling.
“I was glad that they looked at it and they did,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said during his pregame Zoom call.
The Bruins now turn the page to the New Jersey Devils for a 5 p.m. matchup on ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ Day on Causeway St. They’ll likely be without Carlo for a while. Cassidy provided a promising update though of Carlo’s improved status after returning home from the hospital less than 48 hours ago.
Urho Vaakaninen will slot in on the back end, likely skating on the third pair with Tinordi. Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy will serve as the top pair with Jakub Zboril and Conor Clifton on the second defensive unit.
The Bruins and Caps have four more meetings scheduled in April. By then, Wilson will return as the two teams reunite for another expected intense showdown between two East Division rivals.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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