Since the Capitals acquired him nearly three years ago, right wing T.J. Oshie has been the model of consistency when it comes to offensive production, with 136 points (70 goals, 66 assists) in 190 games played in a Caps sweater. After signing an eight-year. $46 million contract last summer with the team after an impressive 33-goal season, Oshie has found himself in a scoring slump as of late.
While his numbers aren’t horrendous (29 points in 42 games played), they aren’t what the team and Oshie himself are used to from the 31-year former first-round pick. An injury earlier in the season may play a part in it, as he missed six games due to a concussion, but since returning to action on December 19 against the Dallas Stars, Oshie has just five points (one goal, four assists) in 14 games, with the lone goal coming on December 22; furthermore, four of his five points have come in the past five games. So what exactly is going on with Oshie?
While it’s unlikely the Caps would play him if he had re-occurring issues as a result of the concussion, there’s not a clear explanation for Oshie’s prolonged slump. While it was unlikely Oshie would come close to matching an NHL-best 23.1 shooting percentage from last season, he currently owns a respectable 14.9% shooting percentage, is averaging just 5.6 shots per 60 minutes compared to 7.1 last season, and just 2.2 points per 60 minutes to a slightly better 2.7 last season. The Capitals’ struggling power play could also play a part, as the team has been unable to generate much offense as of late, ranking 16th in the NHL. Oshie hasn’t been given much room to operate in the slot, where he scored 21% of his 33 goals last season (7/33), and seven of his 11 goals this season (64%). On the man-advantage this season, Oshie has averaged 9.2 shots per 60 minutes, with 57% of his shots on the power play getting through to the opposing goalie. At even-strength, 52.1% of his shots have gotten through to the net.
What this indicates is that the reason behind Oshie’s slump may be more attributed to luck than anything else. The effort is clearly there (backed by both numbers and visible on-ice performance), and the fact that more than half of his shots at both even-strength and on the power play are hitting the net says that it may be that the hard-working right wing may just need some bounces to go his way. While slumps like these often have an effect on players’ confidence, Oshie is not one to give up (both on and off the ice), and in time, it’s likely Oshie will regain the scoring touch that has made him such a dangerous player for opposing teams.
By Michael Fleetwood