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Tom Wilson: 100-Goal Scorer, Grinder, Winter Olympic Outsider

Jacob Scott

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It’s official, Tom Wilson is a 100-goal scorer in the NHL – and it’s about time. The Canadian, now in his ninth season with the Washington Capitals, took 595 games, five suspensions, and a handful of major controversies to reach the century mark. And even that doesn’t scratch the surface of the trials and tribulations that have punctuated his career.

Wilson is 27 (he’ll turn 28 before the end of the season), and is a one-time Stanley Cup winner. He was drafted 16th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and has averaged just under half a point per game throughout his professional career.

Tic-tac-toe, and a GOAL! #ALLCAPS
That’s Tom Wilson’s 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣th career goal, BTW. 😎 https://t.co/xgfQujuzWY

Tom WIlson scored the 100th goal of his NHL career in Washington’s 4-3 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on December 7.

Much beloved in D.C., Wilson is regarded as a pantomime villain elsewhere – which complicates matters when it comes to scrutinizing his record.

So, what should we make of Wilson – the grinder, the playmaker, and the goal scorer?

Tom Wilson, the Grinder

Wilson’s reputation as a grinder (or perhaps even a goon) proceeds him. Since entering the NHL in 2013, he leads all players in penalty minutes (1,154) – a tally that includes 18 misconducts and two match penalties. His suspension history is similarly long.

Wilson’s first ban, for a hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas, came in September 2017. Nine days later, he was suspended again – this time for four games for boarding Blues forward Sammy Blais. It would become something of a habit.

For checking Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese to the head in the 2017-18 playoffs, Wilson was banned for three games. Five months later, he received a 20-game suspension (which was later reduced to 14) for hitting Oskar Sundqvist – also of St. Louis – in the head.

In 2020-21, Wilson was banned for seven games for a hit on Brandon Carlo versus the Boston Bruins.

Omitted from this article is a list of occasions when Wilson crossed the line but wasn’t punished by the Department of Player Safety (DOPS). That, of course, includes “the horrifying act of violence” he committed at Maddison Square Garden last season.

If you’ve forgotten, Wilson slammed Artemi Panarin head-first into the ice without a helmet and only received a $5,000 fine in the way of supplementary discipline. DOPS came under heavy fire for its handling of the incident, with New York Rangers forward Ryan Strome leading the charge against the decision.

“I think it’s a joke, to be honest with you,” Strome said.

It’s undeniable that Wilson’s reputation is mainly deserved. He crosses lines and is unapologetic about doing so. But is there more to his game?

Tom Wilson, the Playmaker

In a word, yes.

Wilson has 245 points through 595 regular-season games, adding to his 30 points in 82 playoff appearances. He has 15 assists this season, although he has spent much of it playing on a line with one of the greatest goal scorers of all time. So, it figures.

But it’s worth getting beyond the numbers on this – because Wilson is starting to demonstrate his quality on the puck and is making an impact at five-on-five.

Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Although Wilson’s single-season assist record is 23, he’s bound to blast past that number this time out. He’s currently on pace for 47 assists in 2021-22 – evidence of the Canadian’s growing influence on the Capitals’ possession game. He’s more involved in Washington’s build-up play than ever before – and Caps head coach Peter Laviolette has noticed.

“I think he handles all of that,” Laviolette said of Wilson’s impact. “I think his leadership in the room continues to grow. And so all of that [two-way impact] was there, and I think it’s continued on this year.”

Tom Wilson, the Goal Scorer

Given the nature of his latest milestone, it’s worth assessing Wilson’s value as a goal scorer. Many of his 100 NHL goals have come from in front of the net, but he’s notched his fair share of highlight reelers too.

Take this, a playoff goal versus the Boston Bruins, as a prime example.

Wilson, in the clip above, broke behind the Bruins’ defence, used his foot speed to beat Charlie McAvoy to the puck, and demonstrated his quick release to beat Tuukka Rask.

In February of this year, Wilson demonstrated his two-way ability by scoring an individualistic short-handed goal against the Buffalo Sabres.

In the example above, the play started along the boards, where Wilson stole the puck from defenceman Sam Reinhart. From there, he turned on the afterburners to break into the Sabres’ zone and puck-handled beautifully before scoring on his backhand.

Much is said and written about Wilson’s aggression, but he certainly knows how to put the puck in the net and is starting to do so with increasing frequency.

Tom Wilson, the Winter Olympian?

Per NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti, Wilson is on Team Canada’s long-list for the upcoming Winter Olympics, which speaks to the extent he is underrated as a hockey player and overrated as a goon.

Moreover, the ‘Wilson for Beijing’ bandwagon is gaining pace. The 27-year-old is on Steve Greeley’s latest Olympic roster projection (wildly, in place of Mitch Marner) – in part because he has shown that he can be trusted in high-pressure situations.

Related: Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson is More Than Just a Physical Presence

It also helps that he’s playing – and talking – like a trustworthy pro.

“It’s a lot of fun playing with these guys,” Wilson said of his Washington teammates. “Whatever I can do to compete and play my game. [The] most important thing right now is team wins. We have some adversity going, but we are rallying together and trying to keep collecting the Ws.”

Wilson divides opinion. He’s hated by some and adored by others. But mention his name, and the reaction won’t be one of indifference. If you want to measure a player’s influence, good or bad, take account of public opinion. Whatever your view of the Ontarian forward, his impact on the Capitals, their rivals, and – to an extent – the NHL, is undeniable.

Wilson finally has his century of goals – adding another chapter to his peculiar career. Many more will follow.

Luke is an award-winning sports journalist from the UK, who covers the Washington Capitals for THW. He is a recent graduate from the University of Warwick and is currently studying a postgraduate degree in Newspaper Journalism at City, University of London. To stay up-to-date with Luke’s work, you can find his tweets via @LukeJames_32.

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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