Life Without T.J. Oshie: A Look at the Gaping Void

tj-oshie-washington-capitals-practice-kettler

Caps Right Winger, T.J. Oshie, sustained an upper body injury in the match up against the Detroit Red Wings.  Oshie, who has scored 12 points in 17 games so far this season, had been listed as week-to-week for his undisclosed upper body injury. 

So far this season, T.J. Oshie is off to his best start of his career, tying Ovechkin in goals scored in the first 17 games of the season.  But while his goal scoring is a key attribute that the Capitals will miss in his stead, there are other attributes of his play that will leave noticeable holes on the ice until he returns.

Powerplay

t-j-oshie-washington-capitals-practice-kettler-jpgIn the 7-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, T.J. Oshie racked up the fourth most powerplay minutes of Capitals forwards, and got a powerplay goal in the final moments of the first period to put the Caps up 3-0.  Then, at the beginning of the third period, T.J. Oshie was able to complete a pass to the center of the ice where Justin Williams was able to bury the puck past Fleury.  That night, Oshie had 4 points.

T.J. Oshie quickly became a regular in the Caps’ powerplay unit after the Caps lost Troy Brouwer, who would sit in the center of the PP to screen the goaltender and slam home rebounds.  Oshie was quick to pick up the slack and fill the roll in the position, and proved that he was capable of more than just taking a one-time snapshot from point-blank range.  His chemistry with his teammates and his passing abilities helped the Capitals with their powerplay for the majority of last season.

After sustaining the injury in the Red Wings game, the hole that was left on the ice in Oshie’s absence wasn’t able to be filled.  Both Brett Connolly and Jay Beagle racked up powerplay time, but the Caps couldn’t find the answer they needed in the two powerplay opportunities they had.  Even though they only had three full lines, the Caps still managed to shut out the Red Wings 1-0 thanks to a late Beagle goal.

Currently this season, Oshie has almost 50 total minutes of powerplay time-on-ice, and has the second most shots on the powerplay behind Ovechkin.  Oshie has four points on the powerplay, two goals and two assists, and only has one giveaway while on the man-advantage all year.  Most importantly, however, is his ability to force turnovers on the powerplay.  He’s a key guy to win the crucial races to the puck when it goes to the corner, and win the puck back to the point for a scoring opportunity.  For the time being, it looks as if Justin Williams will try to fill this role until Oshie is back in the line-up.

Penalty Kill

Recently, we have seen Oshie on the ice when the Caps area a man-down.  Oshie isn’t a complete stranger to the PK, but we hadn’t seen him as a starting penalty-killer until very recently.

t-j-oshie-washington-capitals-practice-jpgAs soon as the Caps began starting Oshie while short-handed, a new dimension was added to the PK unit.  All of a sudden, time and space was being taken away from the opposition’s powerplay, and players on the other team were forced to make bad passes that allowed the Caps to ice the puck and kill time.  Instead of having a collapsed penalty kill and allowing the enemy to freely pass the puck around the perimeter, an aggressive PK started giving the Capitals an opportunity while a man-down.  It also seems as if his teammates on the ice decided to follow in suit with his aggressive play as well.

Against Chicago, a diving Matt Niskanen was able to swat the puck to center ice, where Oshie was able to pick it up and dish it to Beagle for the team’s first short-handed goal all year.  Then again, against the Penguins, an aggressive Oshie took time and space away from Malkin, who turned the puck over.  Beagle was able to carry the puck down the ice on a breakaway, and Oshie got a goal on the follow-up opportunity.  In the entirety of the 2015-16 season, the Caps only had two short-handed goals, both of which were scored by former Capital Jason Chimera.  This season, the Caps already tied their short-handed goal total from last year only 16 games into the regular season.

t-j-oshie-braden-holtby-washington-capitals-jpgOshie is tied with Brooks Orpik and Karl Alzner for the most takeaways on the team while shorthanded, despite having considerably less short-handed ice time.  He is also third on the team for short-handed hits and is tied with Beagle for most shots-blocked by a forward when short-handed.

Both special teams suffer a significant loss with Oshie injured.  The team and the fans can only hope that T.J. makes a quick recovery so that he can rejoin the line-up soon.

By Justin Green

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