Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final featured some absolutely fantastic hockey. If you’re in it for the drama – even beyond the Medieval Times intro – then the Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals didn’t disappoint on Monday, either.
More than a few people would argue that the officials disappointed in Vegas’ 6-4 win, though.
The third period featured at least two controversial moments, leaving each team with legitimate beefs. They took the opportunity to gripe about those things, too.
‘Wilson being Wilson’
If you were forced to name one Capitals player who’d polarize viewers with a hit, it would be Tom Wilson. Well, if that was you’re guess, you were right.
Wilson delivered this hit on Jonathan Marchessault, which drew an interference penalty (but not a power play for Vegas, as David Perron was whistled for cross-checking Alex Ovechkin). Mike Milbury believed that the penalty calls were “suspicious.”
After Game 1, the Golden Knights followed the script by saying that Wilson followed his pigeonholed role in the NHL as someone who arguably crosses the line.
“I saw the hit. I remember everything. It’s a late hit,” Marchessault said. “I think the league’s going to take care of it. We know what type of player he is out there. You’ve got to keep your head up when he’s there …”
Ryan Reaves is generating complaints from the other side, but that didn’t stop him from weighing in on Wilson’s hit. (Note: if you’re wondering about a possible Wilson – Reaves fight, consider it unlikely. You could say they’re in different “weight classes.”)
“It’s late … I hope the league does something about it,” Reaves said. “That’s just Wilson being Wilson.”
Gang, it seems like “Wilson being Wilson” is more violent and less strange than “Manny being Manny.”
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said that the team was “upset about the hit” and believed that Wilson should have received a five-minute major. That said, Gallant described the overall officiating in Game 1 as “outstanding” and praised his team for responding well after the check.
(Indeed, the Golden Knights went on to score two more goals to break a 4-4 tie and win 6-4.)
It’s difficult to imagine the NHL handing out another suspension for Wilson during the same postseason, especially since Marchessault eventually returned to Game 1 after going through concussion protocol. That’s especially true since the Capitals missed Wilson when he was suspended.
From penalty to goal allowed?
After Game 1, Milbury was also unhappy with Ryan Reaves getting away with cross-checking John Carlson before scoring that pivotal 4-4 goal:
Capitals coach Barry Trotz believes that a penalty should have been called there.
No doubt, that was a huge swing. If a cross-checking call would have come about, it would have negated the 4-4 goal and allowed the Caps to go on the power play with a 4-3 lead intact. Washington wasn’t able to flex its special teams muscles often in Game 1, as the Capitals went 0-for-1 on the man advantage while Vegas connected on its lone opportunity.
Maybe that’s why Gallant felt so great about the officiating? Spoiler: Caps fans disagree with Gallant about that one.
For more on Game 1, check out PHT’s recap.
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub