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Malkin back to working out, Tom Wilson is still acting like Tom Wilson

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Stray thoughts on a Tuesday: Malkin back in the gym, Bark-Andre, Ryan Reaves, Tom Wilson, Ryan Reaves and Tom Wilson, oh you know.

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A few stray thoughts on a Tuesday:

На пути к новому сезону on the way to the next season #GoPens

A post shared by Evgeni Malkin (@e.malkin71geno) on

Translation: “on the way to next season”. THIS NHL season isn’t already over and it’s still but May and, jeez, ready to see more Penguins and Evgeni Malkin already. It’s gonna be a long summer.

**

Speaking of the ongoing season, a wild and entertaining Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final last night. As you’ve probably seen, Tom Wilson did something stupid.

It’s not surprising Wilson won’t be suspended, probably even the right decision in a nutshell (though the initial call was a textbook major penalty and game misconduct). If it wasn’t this player, no real second thoughts.

But it is sad that the NHL will allow a player like Wilson - SUSPENDED THREE TIMES THIS SEASON! - to get away with a “slightly” late hit in their eyes, which was from the blindside and completely unnecessary. Only a handful of players skate all the way across the ice to deliver a hit like this. Wilson ought not to get to much slack in a situation where he again toes the line of illegality, and again injures another opponent.

The only saving grace is Wilson does at least change his level and go for the shoulder, otherwise we’re talking about a significant injury for Jonathan Marchessault and a 4th suspension in one season. At some point perhaps the NHL will have had enough, but apparently this is not yet that point.

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The reffing controversies didn’t end there, with the zebras allowing a blatant cross-check by Ryan Reaves to John Carlson immediately preceding Reaves’ 3rd period goal.

That coulda/shoulda/woulda been a penalty. Caps fans are howling about it, and they have a case. 3rd period of a playoff game the refs are going to let it slide. Didn’t see too many Caps fans offering to give back Alex Ovechkin’s last-minute winner in Game 3 vs the Pens due to a blatant trip by Wilson that took out Olli Maatta (nor would expect it). Sometimes the reffing is beneficial, sometimes costly.

**

Speaking of Reaves and Wilson, the immediate howls of “harf harf see enforcers don’t deter anything people still get hurt harf harf” could be heard after the mere presence of Ryan Reaves didn’t prevent Tom Wilson from being a dangerous, dumb, idiot.

Anyone with a brain knows that nothing (especially the league!) will prevent Tom Wilson from being a dangerous, dumb, idiot.

The reason you want a Ryan Reaves is for damage control. If Wilson is going to be crushing people no matter what, you either have a guy like Reaves who can answer/address or you don’t.

Last year the Penguins didn’t have anyone like that and they saw the Winnipeg Jets (a team full of big, tough players) injure 3 (3!!!) Pittsburgh players in the course of the game. No one could stem the tide until Malkin took a shot at a Jet. That’s what you want to avoid to have to happen.

We’ll see how this series unfolds from here, but I suspect Vegas will be much better off having Reaves than not having him. You ask any star player and they would unanimously prefer to have a big tough guy like that on their bench and on their side. There’s a good reason for that.

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There’s talk Vegas’ success might push the salary cap even higher. It’s a great sight to see for the NHL’s business model. We’ll see by next month what the exact figure is and if the players’ association will use their inflator to help raise it, but either way NHL business is very good right now.

**

Marc-Andre Fleury giving up 4 goals, playing pretty poorly to be honest, but still winning Game 1. Good for Vegas? Or better for the Caps to know show they can still crack him? Fleury only gave up 6 goals to the Jets in the last four games of the series!

At the other end of the ice Braden Holtby wasn’t any better. In games Washington gets out in front early and clamps down on defense, good luck. They’re playing very well when in control like that and Holtby can build up into being a wall. But as we know first-hand, he will toss out rebounds in inopportune places. Those can be difficult to convert, but strike there and the game is changed. Vegas seems great at that element and it’ll be worth watching to see if they can keep popping up in places where he’s leaving pucks.

**

3 wins away, Bark-Andre! Take us home