OK, let's reset the scene: there are about seven minutes left in the third period of Thursday night's Game 1 between the Capitals and Flyers. Washington holds a 1-0 lead.
Resident moron Tom Wilson of the Caps takes a boarding penalty for a hit from behind on Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald. The referee raises his arm to indicate the penalty, and all looks well. The Flyers will have a chance to even the score despite being outplayed for the majority of the period and the game.
And then Wayne Simmonds jumps in to the defense of his teammate. He jumps in and engages Wilson, dropping the gloves. The referees called a minor for roughing and a major for fighting on Simmonds. Wilson was given a minor for boarding and a major for fighting. The Flyers power play was negated.
Here's the play:
Now, you can argue that the officiating was weak here. That's a fair point. But by jumping in, Simmonds knows there's a chance that the Flyers will suffer the consequences of a penalty here.
So there are two schools of thought: on one hand, you don't want a guy like Tom Wilson running around for the rest of the series. Particularly with Wilson. Keeping him in check is important. You can't let him throw a hit like that with no consequences, and teammates appreciate it when you stick up for each other like this.
But on the flip side, you can argue that there were consequences already. The Flyers were about to get a huge power play, and by jumping in -- bad call or not -- Simmonds negated that opportunity for his team. Even worse, it took Simmonds off the ice, and he is a much better hockey player than Wilson. I mean, this is telling:
Ovechkin on the fight: "It was a great job by Willy, to take one of the key players out. It's huge. It shows character, it shows smartness."— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) April 15, 2016
This is Tom Wilson's job. He's not particularly skilled at hockey, but he can have an impact on a series in situations like this. The Flyers will have to be smarter in Game 2 and beyond.