Setting the Tone in Big Games

Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

Setting the tone in big games is a critical intangible in any sport. When searching for initial tone-setters from last night’s 7-1 shellacking of the Pittsburgh Penguins, one doesn’t have to look very far. 

Setting the proverbial “tone” of a game can be a difficult thing to quantify or define. However, last night’s game had a fairly obvious leaping off point for the Capitals.

TJ Oshie’s steal & break away during the Capitals first penalty kill is definitely a top candidate for the game’s initial tone setter.

Oshie’s aggressive defense forced a turnover by the Penguins Evgeny Malkin. Oshie would then retrieve the puck, flick it north to Jay Beagle, and follow-up on the Beagle rebound for the game’s first score.


Jay Beagle should also get a nod for recognizing the shorthanded opportunity and positioning himself for the quick break away.

The goal seemed to amplify the energy level at Verizon Center, and provide extra juice for a Capitals team that was already buzzing around the puck.

Nicklas Backstrom would score the Capitals second goal just ten minutes later, and Oshie would add another just before the first period expired, and the rout was on.

Oshie has shown a proclivity to rise-up and set the tone in big games, which was first illustrated by his hat trick in game one of the second round of the playoffs last season against the Penguins. Oshie also set the tone in game 5 of the first round of the playoffs against the Flyers, when he immediately dropped the gloves with Brayden Schenn, who took a cheap shot on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s knees in game 4.


By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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4 Responses to Setting the Tone in Big Games

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

    One could argue Oshie would make a good Captain.

    • DJ says:

      I don’t know if I can imagine a scenario where Ovi is still a Cap and not the captain.

      That raises larger questions about the real purpose (if any) of the captaincy. Is it purely for the players? Is it about being a liaison between the players and coaching staff? Is it something you give to the rising face of the franchise (Crosby/McDavid/Landeskog)? Is it purely a PR issue?

  2. Jerry Levine says:

    Oshie is a tenacious player who is very good in the offensive zone. He is one of the hardest working Caps and does a good job as a penalty killer as well. Management should do all it can to keep him after this year.

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