Wilson: ‘Not going to be any quit’ in Caps down stretch run originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
ARLINGTON, Va. — With just three-and-a-half weeks remaining in the regular season, the Washington Capitals sit five points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. It’s unfamiliar territory for Washington — an organization that has made the postseason in eight straight years — as they have just a 3.6% chance of making the playoffs, according to Hockey Reference.
Even though the odds aren’t in their favor, the Capitals believe they’re still capable of making a push for that final spot.
“You never know what can happen,” forward Tom Wilson said following Monday’s optional skate. “You win a few in a row, win one tomorrow — start with one. If you string together, one, two, three, four, five [and] you get some help, who knows? There’s not going to be any quit in here.”
The Capitals’ next two games are at home against a pair of teams below them in the standings. Washington hosts Columbus on Tuesday, a team the Capitals have defeated in all three meetings this year. On Thursday, the Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks, a team they knocked off in their lone previous matchup this season.
“We’ve got to keep battling,” Wilson continued. “There are winnable games that we’re going to have to find a way to grab.”
After a hot start to the season, the Capitals have stumbled down the standings since the calendar flipped to 2023. Injuries have played a major role in Washington’s recent struggles, too, as the team has consistently been short-handed on a night-in, night-out basis.
Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom each missed the start of the season recovering from offseason surgeries. Connor Brown tore his ACL four games into the year. Star defenseman John Carlson has been sidelined since Dec. 23. with a facial injury. Wilson missed seven games in late January and early February with a lower-body ailment. Defenseman Martin Fehervary and Nick Jensen have each missed multiple games due to various injuries in the past couple of weeks.
The Capitals have been decimated by injuries for almost the entirety of the season, but Wilson would not use such as an excuse for the team’s overall shortcomings.
“We’ve had a good group of players in here and we’ve got to find a way to get wins no matter who’s in the lineup,” Wilson said. “You never want to see big pieces of your organization go down. It definitely makes it a little tougher. But, that’s hockey. It’s a savage sport. It’s a tough sport out there and things happen.”
Tom Wilson on the Capitals’ injuries this year: “they’re no excuse.” pic.twitter.com/TuiLaYNwkB
— Ethan Cadeaux (@Ethan_Cadeaux) March 20, 2023
Wilson did share that he, physically, feels “pretty good,” arguably the best he’s felt all season. That’s a great sign for the Capitals as they enter the final stretch run of the season.
“Physically wise, I’m not thinking about too much, which is nice,” he said. “I’m starting to feel more like myself. It’s a work in progress.”
Other notes from Monday’s practice…
-John Carlson wore a normal white sweater for Monday’s optional skate, an upgrade from the blue non-contact jersey he’d worn the past few practices. The change was part of Carlson’s expected progression, according to the team, as he is still not ready to return to the ice for game action.
-Evgeny Kuznetsov was not present for Monday’s optional skate. He’s currently listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after he was forced to leave Sunday’s game against Minnesota early after absorbing a hit from Matt Dumba.
-Defenseman Nick Jensen (upper body) and goaltender Darcy Kuemper (upper body) were both on the ice in uniform for Monday’s skate. Both are listed as day-to-day, according to the team.
This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.