Lars Eller defends Tom Wilson ahead of Rangers rematch

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Lars Eller: ‘I don’t think people see things clearly when it comes to Tom’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Lars Eller once again defended Caps teammate Tom Wilson on Wednesday and said that, when it comes to Wilson’s actions on the ice, people don’t “see things clearly.”

Wilson was fined $5,000 for roughing due to his role in a scrum Monday against the Rangers where he punched forward Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while he laid on the ice. That punishment sent waves of backlash against the league from all over, which has only ratcheted up the intensity before Wednesday’s rematch at Madison Square Garden. Puck drop scheduled for 7 pm on NBC Sports Washington. 

Eller said that Wilson has handled the situation like a pro, before he jumped to Wilson’s defense for the second time in as many days.

“I think the thing has been blown out of proportion, I’ve played in the league for a while and I think I’ve seen a lot worse things happen,” Eller said. “I don’t think people see things clearly when it comes to Tom, when it comes to things he’s involved in. I think there’s already a biased opinion.”

After the punishment was handed down from the league Tuesday morning, the New York Rangers released a statement calling the incident a “horrifying act of violence” and said that NHL Head of Player Safety George Parros is unfit to continue in his position. 

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Coach Peter Laviolette said after the pregame skate that the Capitals weren’t focused on the Rangers’ statement. 

Eller added that he doesn’t think it’s just fans that have a particular view of Wilson, and referenced people with a voice using it against the Capitals’ winger. Notably, there have been calls for Wilson’s arrest, as well as banishment from the NHL in recent days.

Eller also brought up an incident that happened Tuesday with Sidney Crosby and Travis Konecny, where Crosby was seen slamming Konecny’s head into the ice while on top of him. Eller compared the play to what he saw from Monday. 

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“I was watching Pittsburgh and Philly play, and Crosby and Konecny got tangled up and one guy jumps on the other guy’s back and puts him in a headlock, and the guy retaliates and does a similar, slams him into the ice and gives him a couple jabs into the back of the head,” Eller said. “That was a penalty. That’s what the refs assessed in the situation, the same thing happened the night before. Very similar situations, just different players.”

He then added that he could find “several clips of similar situations” where that happens, and though Artemi Panarin is out for the final few games of the year with an injury, he didn’t view the scrum as out of the ordinary.

“I don’t want to see players get injured,” Eller said. “I think once Panarin decides to jump on Tom’s back, when you decide to enter the scrum like that, you can’t expect not to…you start wrestling with a guy, you have to be ready to wrestle someone...even though you’re defending your teammate. These things happen all the time, it’s a very unfortunate outcome for Panarin in this situation, but it’s not really stuff we haven’t seen before.”