Tom Wilson of the Capitals is eligible to return from his seven-game suspension when Washington hosts the Rangers on Saturday night.
Before the teams met on Friday, he spoke to reporters for the first time since the March 5 hit on the Bruins’ Brandon Carlo that led the NHL to punish him for boarding.
"I obviously digested it after the first couple days," he said, "but as of late I’m just trying to get focused on myself, making sure I’m ready when the team has me back."
Wilson, who has seven goals, 10 assists and 25 penalty minutes this season, added, ""It’s one of those situations where obviously you kind of hoped it didn’t happen for a number of different reasons. But it is what it is, and I’ve just got to control the future."
The suspension was Wilson’s fifth in his career but first since early in the 2018-19 season. He was not penalized at the time of the hit on Carlo.
"I have to continue to adjust," he said. "I think the game is always adapting year-to-year. At the end of the day, it can’t happen. I can’t be missing seven games. I can’t be missing one game. I’ve got to be in the lineup."
The Capitals won their first six games without Wilson, who called himself a "proud teammate" for how his colleagues responded to his absence.
Outside of the Washington area, the hit on Carlo, who was hospitalized overnight, made Wilson an even more unpopular player than he already was.
"Social media is a scary place right now on a number of different levels — hockey, the world," he said. "It’s not a nice place. It’s not a friendly place. People feel like they can say whatever they want.
"It’s nothing new to me. That’s been there throughout my whole career, so I’m not going to sit here and say it bothered me a ton."
Notes & quotes: G Igor Shesterkin skated Friday morning and remains day-to-day. Alexandar Georgiev started in goal, with Keith Kinkaid as his backup . . . There were no lineup changes from Wednesday’s 9-0 victory over the Flyers. "Obviously, with the way things went the other night, we’re not going to change anything," interim coach Kris Knoblauch said . . . Knoblauch said having one game under his belt helped him entering Friday night. "I think I have a better feel for the players on the bench, what they provide, what role they’re suited for," he said.