Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie spoke to the media following today’s practice. He discussed the team’s COVID-19 concerns recently, captain Alex Ovechkin’s red-hot season thus far, and the team looking forward to center Nicklas Backstrom inching his way back to the lineup.
Thursday’s practice was the first time the Capitals were back on the ice since Monday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks at Capital One Arena. They took Wednesday off due to precautionary measures involving the team’s COVID-19 concerns recently.
Oshie said it was “good” to have a few days off and “get guys healthy [who] are in the protocol and get ready for another run of games.” The Capitals host the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday (7 PM ET, ESPN+, Hulu) before starting a three-game road trip, which begins on Saturday at the Buffalo Sabres.
He mentioned you “hope for the best” when you get to the rink and go through COVID tests. “If guys do test positive, you just hope that it’s mild symptoms or no symptoms and their families are healthy and they get back with us as soon as they can while they can keep everyone safe.
The Capitals have three players (center Nic Dowd, defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk, and right-wing Garnet Hathaway) who are currently in COVID-19 protocol. Left-wing Carl Hagelin missed Thursday’s practice with a non-COVID-19-related illness. Goaltending coach Scott Murray also missed practice due to COVID-19 protocol while assistant coach Kevin McCarthy was absent but not because of COVID-19.
On Ovechkin, Oshie said he is “more consistent this year,” adding, “I think you’re seeing it night in and night out…when he flips the switch, you can’t stop him…right now with his mentality, he’s going to find a way to create offense for our team and get us wins…I think his play this year just confirms what everyone’s thought about him all along.”
The team has been without Backstrom (hip) since the beginning of training camp, but it appears the 34-year-old is inching closer to returning. Oshie had nothing but good things to say about Backstrom, including his leadership.
“I know he’s not the most vocal guy and doesn’t show the most emotion, but when Nick speaks everyone listens, and I mean everyone in the organization. We miss him. There’s not another player like him, and we can’t wait for him to get back, but we hope when he gets back he’s healthy and ready to go for the long haul.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 9, 2021
By Della Young