After a six game battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs where each game was decided by only one goal and five of which went into overtime, tying an NHL record, Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie believes his team has come out of the grueling series tougher.
Oshie joined The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday, a day before the puck drops in their Eastern Conference second round series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and looked back at their battle with Toronto.
“I think each game our mental toughness and our resolve got a little bit stronger,” Oshie said. “As the series went on and the closer games got, it seemed like the more comfortable we got in those tight games, and I imagine there will be some tight ones against Pittsburgh.”
Oshie followed a regular season personal best 33 goals with a team high 7 points in the Toronto series. The winger credits his increased numbers to being more comfortable playing alongside stars Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
“Definitely at first there was an intimidation factor,” Oshie said about playing with the two superstars. “We have a couple of the best players in the world on our team. I think one of the best natural passers in the game, and 200 foot center man in Nicky, and probably the best goal scorer of our era in Ovi.
“So it was a little intimidating and I almost felt right when I got here that I had to get those guys the puck as quick as I coul, and when I got the puck I was looking for number eight. No matter where he was, I was going to throw it to that area. And now that I’ve been here for a while, I’ve realized how much attention O draws to himself, and so I had to kind of become more of a shooter, which people have told me a lot in the past that I got to shoot more, and it just had to happen for us to have success as a line, and I think that’s why you saw my goal totals go up, because O draws so much attention and Nicky is so good at passing that I just had to find myself in some scoring areas, and luckily for me and fortunate for the line, some of those have been hitting the back of the net.”
After losing to Pittsburgh in last year’s playoffs, Oshie likes their chances this year and seems to think this year’s Capitals are more focused than last season’s.
“I think last year, especially rolling into the playoffs with the lead we had in the regular season for the Presidents’ Trophy, I think there was just a little, I don’t want to say cockiness, but maybe we were a little lackadaisical and thought that maybe it was going to come a little easier to us,” Oshie said. “And once we played against Pittsburgh, and even in the series against Philly, it didn’t really come that easy, and I think this year, this time around we’re not taking anything for granted, and we’re ready to roll.”