After scoring only one goal in a span of 33 games, it felt like T.J. Oshie‘s scoring drought would never end. He had not scored in 19 straight games entering the Capitals’ home-and-home series with the New York Islanders three weekends ago, marking the longest scoring drought of the 31-year old winger’s career, but it was not because he was playing bad, he just had dreadful puck luck until then.
Before that game against the Islanders, Capitals’ coach Barry Trotz put Oshie back up on the first line with Nicklas Backstrom and Andre Burakovsky, a line that scored six goals in two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. So far, the Capitals have gotten great results.
After being reunited with that line, Oshie snapped his goalless drought in the first game of the home-and-home set with the Islanders at Barclays Center, after taking a cross-ice pass from Burakovsky, which gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead in the first period. Oshie added an empty-netter for his second goal of the night to give the Capitals a 7-3 win in Brooklyn. The two-goal night sparked the winger’s confidence.
Since getting that goal against the Islanders, Oshie has been the hottest Capitals’ forward. He scored again in the Capitals’ 4-2 win at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Monday, giving Oshie five goals and seven points in his last seven games after his career-long scoring drought and it could not have come at a better time for the Capitals.
Oshie has been one of the Capitals’ most productive forwards since the Capitals acquired him in a trade with the St. Louis Blues in the summer of 2015. He recorded a career-high 26 goals in 80 games during his first season in 2015-16. The next season, he shattered that number with a total of 33 goals in only 68 games. Oshie was on pace for 40 goals last year if he had played a full-82 game season.
Oshie had a hot start to the 2017-18 campaign with 10 goals in his first 21 games, making it likely that he would hit 30+ goals again but a concussion that kept him out six games in December following a hit from San Jose Sharks’ forward Joe Thornton messed up Oshie’s mojo. After returning to the lineup, Oshie tallied only two goals in a span of 35 games and one point, a goal, in his first seven games since returning from injury.
He has had a down year by his standards with his goal total declining from 33 last year to 17 this season, his points total going down from 56 in 2016-17 to 43 in 2017-18, and his shooting percentage dragging down from 23.1% last season to 13.9% this season. In addition, he only has nine even-strength goals this season after leading the team with 26 last year but it has seemed that Oshie has turned a corner with his hot streak.
He will need to bring his turn-a-round into the postseason if the Capitals hope to go far and end their 19-year Conference Final drought. Luckily for Oshie and the team, he has had success in the postseason wearing the red, white, and blue. After scoring six times and tallying 10 points in 12 games in his first postseason with the Capitals back in 2016, he tallied four goals and 12 points in 13 games in the playoffs last season. He never had more than two goals or three points in any playoff season during his career with the Blues.
Oshie seems to have gotten his rhythm from last year back and he will have to continue being productive if the Capitals are going to go where they want to go. If he can bring his hot streak into the playoffs, the Capitals are going to be a much more dangerous team to face in the first round.
By Harrison Brown