Jason Chimera keeled over, forehead pressed into the ice, and clutched his newly misshapen nose. The Capitals forward had barreled into Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith, searching for a hit, but instead absorbed a helmet straight into his face. Smith readjusted his headgear and returned to the Red Wings bench. Chimera staggered to Washington’s side, where trainer Greg Smith waited with a towel.
The GIFs and images and horror arrived soon after. There was Chimera, blood smeared beneath his eyes, schnoz crooked stage-right. Smith ushered Chimera through the tunnel, where doctors reset the broken nose. Chimera missed six minutes and some change.
“They took him back, put it back in place and he came back,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought he played a hell of a game. He was really skating and that’s the Jason Chimera I know. It was good to see him do that.”
Still with just one point this season, fewest among the Capitals’ top-nine forwards, Chimera impressed Trotz with both his toughness and effort upon returning from the locker room. He still skated 16 shifts and dished out four hits, on the third line beside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jay Beagle, no apparent damage – or pain – lingering from the broken nose.
Chimera did not speak with reporters following the 4-2 loss to Detroit. Asked, tongue-in-cheek, whether team trainers properly fixed Chimera’s nose, Trotz replied, “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him. Ask his wife, probably.”
For images of Chimera’s broken nose, which are certainly unsettling and probably not to be consumed over breakfast, the good fellows at Russian Machine compiled them here.
Tom Wilson debuts
Capitals forward Tom Wilson returned to the lineup after offseason ankle surgery and two conditioning games in Hershey. He logged 8 minutes, 14 seconds over 11 shifts – nothing on special teams – on the fourth line with Liam O’Brien and Michael Latta.
“You could tell he’s rusty,” Trotz said. ‘There’s no question you could tell he’s rusty. It wasn’t an exhibition game, but for him it’s sort of his preseason game, game three. I think he’ll be fine. He just needs to get some minutes and play at a higher pace than he’s probably capable right now because he’s missed so much.”
Wilson engaged in several small scrums, mostly post-whistle grabbing and shoving, but never dropped the gloves like he did a team-high 14 times last season. Trotz had previously been unsure whether, after debuting, Wilson would remain in Washington or return to Hershey for further rehabilitation and adjustment to game speed.
“At the end of the day, it’s not really up to me,” Wilson said Wednesday morning. “Trotzie’s an amazing hockey mind, such a great hockey mind, and [General Manager Brian MacLellan] too, the whole organization, the coaching staff. This isn’t their first rodeo. They’ve been around, they’ve been watching kids come up, they’ve been coaching the game and watching players. I think they know what’s best, and at the end of the day they’re going to put the team on the ice that’s going to give them the best chance to win. If that’s me and I can contribute, that’s what I’m going to do.”