Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said on Tuesday morning that the team’s first couple of days under new head coach Peter Laviolette have “been great. He’s been very straight forward and direct. … Guys are taking [the transition] pretty well.”
“We like to have fun. We enjoy coming to the rink even if it means working hard,” Oshie told the media, adding that the Capitals are trying to get to the stage where the transition part is done.
On the team’s addition of defenseman and former Boston Bruins’ defenseman Zdeno Chara, Oshie said that “we are a more veteran team,” and he is excited to see what Chara brings to the Capitals.
Oshie called the team’s center depth “a luxury” and something they took for granted in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs last summer when Nicklas Backstrom missed three games with a concussion. “It’s definitely one of the strengths of our team. It makes us harder to defend,” he added.
When asked about Laviolette replacing Todd Reirden as head coach, Oshie said that “Every time a coach is let go, the results we have are unacceptable. … I looked at this offseason as a big [one]. … There has to be a different level of urgency from the players.”
He called the loss of goaltender Braden Holtby, who signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks as an unrestricted free agent on October 9, “tough” and described the 31-year-old as “the backbone of our team.” “We obviously miss him. … We might miss him more during the games,” he added.
Though Oshie said that “I have a lot of confidence in those young guys,” in response to Ilya Samsonov taking over the net for the first time.
On the team’s priority this season, Oshie responded that they include having more “competitiveness and fire in the game.” “When we’re at our best, we’re not losing battles,” he added, “Our compete level has to be a lot higher than it was in the bubble. … We got no excuse to [not] come out of the gates firing.”
Oshie compared this season to a mini-postseason series with many back-to-backs against the same opponent and playing seven teams eight times each this season. “Our foundation has to be set before we start being unpredictable. This is a big training camp,” he said.
Oshie thinks that “a lot of the onus is on the players” when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19 this season. “[That is] another type of commitment that we have to have,” he added.
He said that he has watched a little bit of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships. When asked what his advice would be to those suiting up for the United States heading into the Gold Medal Game against Canada on Tuesday, Oshie said that he would advise them “to have a blast playing for each other.” He thinks Tuesday’s winner will be the hardest-working and most cohesive group.
By Harrison Brown