It took just one game of the Eastern Conference semifinals for Capitals winger Tom Wilson to find himself embroiled in a potential controversy.
The question, of course, is whether Wilson should face supplemental discipline from the NHL. Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan elected to sidestep the issue during a postgame news conference, even though the play occurred right in front of Pittsburgh’s bench and officials never gave him an explanation as to why a penalty wasn’t called.
“I have no idea, but I’m sure those guys, they’re pretty diligent with their job,” Sullivan said of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. “I’m sure they’ll look at everything. They’ll do whatever they think is appropriate.”
Capitals Coach Barry Trotz declined to comment on the hit during his postgame news conference because he didn’t get a good view of play, although he did note that “no one’s said a whole lot about it, so I don’t think there’s anything.”
“I think you always leave every game hoping for a couple more [calls] your way and a couple less the other way, but it’s playoff hockey,” Penguins forward Matt Cullen said. “I thought they did a fine job and that’s what it’s going to be. In a series like this, you don’t want the refs deciding it.
“You understand that there are going to be a few let go. That’s fine. I think there’s a few areas where we can improve and that’s a lot more important than worrying about anything else.”
Wilson, 22, has never been suspended by the NHL before, but he accumulated the third-most penalty minutes in the league this season and even he admits to developing a reputation as a result.
The Capitals finished Game 1 with a 43-29 advantage in hits, and Sullivan wouldn’t bite when asked if some of Washington’s physicality went overlooked by officials Thursday.
“I’m not concerned,” he said. “We’re just going to play. We’re just going to play hockey. The refs are going to call it the way they see it and our guys are going to play.”