After filling in at center with Lars Eller not being available for the Washington Capitals’ game against the New York Islanders on Thursday night (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington), forward T.J. Oshie said “I might have had a couple of games in St. Louis, but it’s definitely been a while. I’m pretty familiar … I feel like it won’t be too big of a shock. I’m not really nervous about it. I know all of my responsibilities and I’m really excited about the challenge.” Oshie will not play center against the Islanders, according to head coach Peter Laviolette.
With Eller out on top of center Evgeny Kuznetsov, captain Alex Ovechkin, defenseman Dmitry Orlov, and goaltender Ilya Samsonov (all out due to COVID-19 and contact tracing), Oshie thinks “for the most part, we’ve had a very ‘next man up’ mentality.” Those who have earned an opportunity playing “have done a great job” and Oshie feels like the Capitals “have stayed focus. I’m proud of those guys.”
The Athletic’s Joe Smith, who covers the Tampa Bay Lightning, asked Oshie about the challenges of repeating as Stanley Cup Champions as the Capitals were in the Lightning’s shoes two seasons ago. Oshie replied “Don’t jinx yourself (referring to his back-to-back chant at the Capitals’ Stanley Cup Parade) — It’s hard. … You have to start over. … It’s definitely difficult.” He added that “[The Lightning] are definitely going to be a force to reckon with.”
On the Capitals’ center depth, Oshie said that “we’ve been very fortunate” with those four strong centers who have all managed to stay healthy for the most part. “Those four guys do a really good job for us. … Having a couple out [at the same time] is tough,” he continued.
By Harrison Brown