Oshie eye­ing re­turn to Cap­i­tals’ lineup against Bru­ins

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TOMMY CHALK

In Tues­day’s morn­ing skate, Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals for­ward T.J. Oshie, who has been out of the Cap­i­tals’ lineup with an up­per body in­jury since Nov. 19, donned a red jersey, sig­ni­fy­ing he would be on the ice as one of the top six for­wards.

Dur­ing drills, Oshie gath­ered a puck and drove to­ward the net, col­lid­ing with goal­tender Braden Holtby. Oshie bounced up from the col­li­sion no worse for wear.

“It’s been a pretty good pro­gres­sion, get­ting bet­ter, get­ting bet­ter, push­ing it,” Oshie said. “If it was sore, we’d back off. Ev­ery­thing has been pos­i­tive so far. We’re def­i­nitely mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion, so we’ll talk to [coach Barry Trotz] and the doc­tor and see where we go.”

Oshie said he didn’t feel limited and that his stamina was fine dur­ing prac­tice, af­ter slowly build­ing to­ward more con­tact drills over the last cou­ple of days. On Mon­day, he tested the in­jury in drills with de­fense­man Nate Sch­midt and for­ward Brett Connolly.

“Me and [Sch­midt] and [Connolly] were do­ing bat­tle drills in the cor­ner,” Oshie said. “I told Sch­midty not to let up on me — I hope he didn’t — and it felt good. It’s still day-by-day, but we’ll see where we get to­mor­row morn­ing.”

The de­ci­sion to re­turn Oshie to the lineup hasn’t been of­fi­cial, but the fact that he is prac­tic­ing in full, was given a line within the Cap­i­tals’ top six and was do­ing drills with the top power-play unit sug­gests Oshie suits up against the Bos­ton Bru­ins on Wed­nes­day night.

“We’ll make that de­ci­sion to­mor­row,” Trotz said. “We’ll see how he is to­mor­row. He’s pos­si­ble.”

Should Oshie play, the Cap­i­tals will be get­ting back a cru­cial player at a crit­i­cal point in their sea­son. Since Oshie ex­ited the Nov. 18 game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Cap­i­tals have gone 3-3-1. He’s also one of the team’s bet­ter penalty killers and power-play threats. Oshie’s job on the power play is to sit­u­ate him­self right in front of the net, look­ing for re­bounds, de­flec­tions or one-timer op­por­tu­ni­ties from passes be­hind the net.

With­out Oshie, the Cap­i­tals have scored just five goals on 28 power play op­por­tu­ni­ties, a big rea­son why the unit is con­vert­ing on only 15.2 per­cent of power plays this sea­son — 23rd in the NHL. Over the last pre­vi­ous five sea­sons, the Cap­i­tals have scored on 22.6 per­cent of their power play op­por­tu­ni­ties, more than any other NHL fran­chise in that time frame and two per­cent more than the fran­chise with the sec­ond-high­est success rate: the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins.

“With­out a doubt, I think Osh, in that di­a­mond spot, is as good as any­body in the Na­tional Hockey League,” Trotz said. “I think he’s tena­cious, I think he un­der­stands that position. I think his re­trievals, keep­ing pucks alive for sus­tained pres­sure is ex­cep­tional. And then his hand skills to make some­thing out of noth­ing to keep that power play alive is one of the best. So, all that be­ing said, I think he could make a huge dif­fer­ence on our power play.”

The 14-7-3 Cap­i­tals take on the 15-10-1 Bru­ins Wed­nes­day at 8 p.m.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.