After right-wing Tom Wilson missed all but 1:31 of the Washington Capitals’ first-round Stanley Cup Playoff exit to the Florida Panthers, right-wing T.J. Oshie said “It’s tough. I don’t think there’s another player in the league like [Wilson]” with elements like the grit and production that the 28-year-old brings during his final media availability of the season on Sunday.
“It sucks for him, I know how bad he wanted to be out there and what it is like to watch your team [get eliminated],” he continued. Oshie missed the final three games of the Capitals’ first-round exit to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2019 with a broken collarbone.
“I got work to do on the body before any training can start,” the 35-year-old said after he was limited to just 44 regular-season games due to numerous injuries and illness this past season. He acknowledged that it was a tough year for him but “you probably weren’t playing hard enough” if you’re not banged up during the postseason. Oshie added that he will “hopefully [be] back” to 100% health in a month.
”This year, I felt like it was going to be the year based on how well we were playing down stretch,” he said. The Capitals led the Presidents’ Trophy winners 2-1 after Game 3 and with 2:05 to go in Game 4, 3-0 in the second period of Game 5, and twice in Game 6 before coughing each one up. Oshie gave his teammates credit for helping him during his six-goal output in the first round as they fed and created plays for him.
”I feel like I’m going to play 82 [games] next year,” Oshie said but he realizes that injuries happen.
Every injury that he suffered this past season stemmed off of when he broke his foot in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on October 29. “[My] foot was still in pain but I could play” when he returned on November 20 in a 4-0 win at the San Jose Sharks, Oshie told the media.
”There’s no reason why I can’t play a full season next season. I’ll think I’ll be better than I was this season,” Oshie said, adding that he liked his game from this past season.
Oshie discussed that teams learn lessons throughout year and they either take them or they don’t. In the past two seasons, he “didn’t feel like everyone was committed to making a good run” but this year was different. “We were extremely close to winning [another game but] just didn’t get the job done,” he felt. Oshie was proud of everyone especially for holding their heads high after the Capitals went 4-6-0 in February.
”As a core, we realize that [the Cup window is closing]” and they had meetings this year about what it takes to salvage another from it, Oshie said. “Even the core guys, we learned a lot about each other. … It’s tough because we want this core to stay together forever. I hope we do for a couple more years and it’s tough [not to advance].”
On center Evgeny Kuznetsov’s renaissance 2021-22 campaign, Oshie thought that “We absolutely need it. I think [Kuznetsov] was great all year. He was proud of him after the kind of year he had before and people being down on him, some even wanted him to get traded. He’s another guy like [Wilson that you can’t replace] with his speed, ability to create offense, he’s always got a smile on him. He had a great year and great [tournament]. … It was fun to get on his line again and be the beneficiary of some pretty good play. … I hope he keeps putting strides forward because he’s a guy that puts up points for us and he’s going to be the go-to guy moving forward.”
By Harrison Brown