Despite 'evil villain' status, Tom Wilson has made 'huge strides' since suspension

Josh Luckenbaugh
February 20, 2019 - 9:21 am

In case it wasn't clear already, the Capitals' recent road trip has confirmed just how much opposing teams HATE Tom Wilson

During Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Ducks, Wilson was called for a questionable goalie interference penalty. After the play, Anaheim's Twitter account decided to troll Wilson. 

The next day during a 3-2 win over the Kings, Wilson was spotted jawing with Los Angeles' lion mascot, Bailey while sitting in the penalty box. Bailey, of course, then took to Twitter to take more shots at the Caps forward. 

Wilson has become a marked man for opposing fan outrage this season since he missed the first 16 games of the season due to suspension for a preseason hit on the Blues' Oskar Sundqvist. However, Caps head coach Todd Reirden has been hugely impressed with how Wilson has carried himself since his return.  

"That's been something that he's had to really deal with this year more so than in the past, and he's the evil villain of our team for many other (teams') fans," Reirden told The Sports Junkies Wednesday.

"He's grown so much in this area. The lack of questionable hits that can be reviewed, those have all gone away for the most part. That's where he's made huge strides, and then obviously the rest of his game continues to grow and get better."

Known primarily as a hard-hitting, physical force on the ice, Wilson has showed off his offensive and defensive skills this season, setting career-highs with 15 goals and an average time on ice of 18:09. 

"Whether we're using him on the penalty kill, the power play now, and playing top-line minutes, it's great that he's been able to figure out the way to do all those things and still not lose his effectiveness and physical attributes that he brings to the game," said Reirden. 

"It's been a good process to watch this year, and something that he's gotta continue to do here because as we get closer to the playoffs, we can't afford to have him missing any games."

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