ARLINGTON, Va. — Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie has been known to play a very physical and aggressive style of hockey. Along with having slick hands and a quick shot, the 36-year-old has been known to throw his weight around.
However, that style of play can sometimes lead to injuries, and over the past two seasons, the right-winger has dealt with a lot of them. Before the 2022-23 season began, Oshie had to have a core surgery and then later dealt with low-back pain throughout the year. The pain started after playing through a broken foot for some of the 2021-22 season.
That lingering injury prevented him from showing off his physical skill set that he has been known for during his 15-year NHL tenure.
After last season came to a disappointing close, and the Capitals missed the postseason for the first time in eight seasons, Oshie underwent a minor procedure to address the pain and said he feels “light-years better” and he is feeling like his old self again.
Meanwhile, the Everett, Wash., native also was able to train immediately after the season ended, rather than staying away from the weight room until the season came around.
“The biggest difference is just the long offseason. We haven’t had that in a long time. There’s been two years where every game I got to do certain things and I got to think about not only just playing but not put myself in really bad positions,” Oshie said. “I’m a year older but my body feels like I got younger. The head is still there, excitement and the love of the game is still there. So now a healthy body is gonna be fun to get rolling.”
Oshie has been a critical component to Washington’s organization for the past eight seasons. He plays a vital role on the Capitals power play and brings energy inside the locker room. There was a big difference in Washington’s performance when he was absent from the team.
The North Dakota product had 35 points (19 goals, 16 assists) in 58 games last season, which was the second fewest since he arrived in the nation’s capital back in the 2015-16 season.
“Every year is different depending on how the year before went. This year is a little different just because I think a lot of us have some things to prove. For myself it’s just exciting for me to be healthy again and be able to go out there and just play and have fun. So I’ve been enjoying every minute of it,” Oshie said.
However, that bull in china shop type play was on full display in Saturday’s preseason finale, when he rocked Columbus Blue Jackets rookie Adam Fantilli. It was a perfect open-ice hit and a “welcome to the NHL” moment for the 2023 Hobey Baker winner.
— Capitals Replays (@capsreplays) October 8, 2023
Over the course of training camp, the Capitals’ players have said that there is a new level of excitement and the team is hungry to get back into the playoffs, and re-establish the culture of winning.
“You never want to have at least a chance to play a playoff game and make a run. But sometimes, you know failing pretty big can benefit you in certain ways. You learn more I think when your season ends short in a fashion that you don’t want it to end,” Oshie said. “I’m excited every year. I love these guys, love playing in D.C., but this is the most excited I’ve been since we raised the [Stanley Cup] banner.”
By Jacob Cheris