There’s no denying the impact that T.J. Oshie has on the Washington Capitals.
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the last 11 games had been a rocky road for the Capitals, who’d dropped nine of those games, including four in a row. There was a common denominator in those 11 games: there was no Oshie. And once he got back into action, the Capitals were a new team on the ice.
Oshie set the example and was a force to be reckoned with. He was everywhere all at once, making plays, backchecking, battling for pucks and laying the body. He also helped spark some offense, an area where the team has been struggling this season.
“Osh coming back, he was flying out there, throwing the body around, and we follow him,” Alex Ovechkin said postgame about No. 77’s return, adding, “You have to think about put some energy, give every to a different guy. That was the idea, too.”
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Through 18:07, Oshie picked up two assists, led the team with seven hits and played first and second-line minutes while also helping the struggling power play get back to making things happen. He skated mainly on the second line with Sonny Milano and Evgeny Kuznetsov, but also got time with Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.
“He’s so skilled and strong with the puck and brings a lot of energy as well,” Milano said.
It wasn’t just Wednesday that Oshie had an impact. The 35-year-old has been a leader on and off the ice over the course of his D.C. tenure. There’s a reason his teammates all wear his “Warroad” apparel and stand behind him; his contagious energy, maturity, versatility and heart for the game have gone hand in hand with the team’s high standards.
Though he’s been limited to just 10 games this season, Oshie has seven points. However, his value to the team goes far beyond the scoresheet; he’s a team-first guy, and that means everything to Washington.
“He brings a lot to the locker room to start with. Then he plays hard every shift, and that kind of sets the tone for everybody else,” Darcy Kuemper added. “He makes some incredible plays out there. We definitely missed him.”
The Capitals are just five points out of Wild Card position, and there’s still plenty of time to turn things around. Wednesday had the potential to be a turning point, and with Oshie back in the room, there should be no reason that the club will step off the gas now. Washington returns to action on Friday against the Calgary Flames.