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Oshie, Brouwer hope to face former teams tonight


Oshie, Brouwer hope to face former teams tonight

T.J. Oshie sat out Friday night’s 1-0 overtime win in New Jersey with what coach Barry Trotz called a “flu bug,” but Oshie told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that if there is a way he can get back in the lineup tonight against his former team, “I will find it.”

Drafted by the Blues with the 24th overall pick in 2005, Oshie spent the first seven years of his NHL career in St. Louis and his relentless style of play and close connection with the community made him a fan favorite.

But after three straight first-round playoff exits, the Blues decided changes were needed and Oshie was traded to the Capitals in exchange for right wing Troy Brouwer, goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley and a third-round draft pick.

Before missing Friday night’s game, Oshie played in all 72 games for the Capitals, posting a career-high 23 goals (10 on the power play) and 22 assists for 45 points.

“I’m still kind of working that back into my game a little bit,” Oshie said of his offensive skills, which may have been stunted under Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “I think just from the years of trying to be defensive-minded that I kind of got that out of my game. I got the creativity out of my game a little bit. Here, that came back a little. There’s still definitely an accountability factor, but at the same time, there is a time that we can make a play and try to score a goal.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he is surprised that with Oshie’s skill set his career high in goals before this season was just 21.

“He comes to the rink with a tremendous amount of joy, he loves to play,” Trotz said. “I knew he had a really good skill level but his skill level is a lot higher than I even thought and he’s fit in seamlessly with the guys.”

Oshie has also become a fan favorite in Washington, visiting hospitals and participating in youth and military hockey clinics.

“If a player comes and plays in a city he should invest in the city,” Trotz said. “Some guys are naturally more that way. Osh has been excellent at that. I know I asked him to stop by a clinic one night for the Wounded Warriors and he came out with (Brooks) Orpik and (John) Carlson.”

For Brouwer, the change in scenery has also been good for him.  In 75 games for the Blues, Brouwer has 15 goals (five on the power play) and 18 assists for 33 points. The Blues have won three straight by shutouts and are 9-2-0 in their last 11, clinching a playoff berth Friday night against the Canucks.

“I feel all in all I’ve had a great contribution to the team so far this year, hopefully still a whole lot more contribution still to go,” Brouwer  told the Post-Dispatch. “On the other side, I still pay attention to what Washington does and Oshie’s having a good year over there as well. Sometimes trades don’t always work out both ways, but I feel this trade has worked out on both sides.”

As for Copley, he’s played in 33 games for the AHL Chicago Wolves, posting a 12-15-3 record with a 2.83 GAA and .905 save percentage.

[RELATED: Should Holtby get the start tonight against Blues?]

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.