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Oshie sees the challenge of playing alongside Ovechkin

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Oshie sees the challenge of playing alongside Ovechkin

Caps fans got to see T.J. Oshie don the Caps' red for the first time on Monday night and he showed flashes of the skill that made fans so excited when he was first acquired in the offseason. He also got his first taste of playing alongside superstar Alex Ovechkin.

"It's amazing how much the other team has to adjust to cover him and it gives you a little bit more space and time with the puck so I wasn't really used to that," Oshie said.

Even on a team with all the offensive firepower of the St. Louis Blues, Oshie has never played with a player that defenses have to account for as much as Ovechkin. That should open up space for Oshie offensively, it's just a matter of taking advantage of that space.

"I think in the first period I was little too focused on getting the puck and trying to get it to those guys and getting the puck in their hands," Oshie said. "The second and third I just tried to play my game, play simple, find the open pass and make it or shoot it."

Oshie is not the first teammate to defer too much to Ovechkin. Finding a right wing for the top line has been a challenge for the Caps not because they have lacked for talent, but because finding someone to compliment Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom has proven difficult. The major criticism of a player Marcus Johansson when he was on the top line was exactly what Oshie described, far too often he clearly wanted to get the puck to one of his superstar linemates rather than take advantage of the space the defense was yielding to him.

It's an adjustment Oshie will have to make and one he seemed to handle better as the game went on.

"I think in the second and third I just tried to stick to the basics and it worked out better for us."

To hear what else Oshie had to say following Tuesday's preseason win, watch the video above.

RELATED: Youngster, newcomer make statements in Capitals win

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Burakovsky will miss the first round, but Caps won't rule him out for remainder of the playoffs

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USA TODAY Sports

Burakovsky will miss the first round, but Caps won't rule him out for remainder of the playoffs

Andre Burakovsky will be sidelined for the remainder of Washington's first-round series vs. Columbus, but he isn’t necessarily out for the remainder of the playoffs, Coach Barry Trotz said on Friday.

Burakovsky suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury in the Capitals' Game 2 overtime loss and has not been on the ice since.

Trotz said the 23-year-old top-six winger needs “minor” surgery.

That procedure, however, will not preclude Burakovsky from returning to the Caps’ lineup in subsequent rounds, should Washington advance.

“That's why I said minor surgery,” Trotz added, asked if Burky might return at a later date.

This latest surgery is the second for Burakovsky this season. In late October, he had a procedure to repair a broken left thumb and missed the next 20 games.

Since his departure in Game 2, Jakub Vrana and Chandler Stephenson have taken turns replacing Burakovsky on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.

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Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

There's a saying in sports that goes, "A series doesn't start until a team loses at home." For the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, their series won't start until someone wins at home.

Four games into the series, the road team has won every game. Columbus took Game 1 and Game 2 from Capital One Arena and the Caps answered back by winning Game 3 and Game 4 in Ohio.

"We came [to Columbus] to try to get the first one," Barry Trotz said after Thursday's win. "Did that. We came here to get the second one. Did that. All we've done is just got on even terms."

Now the series is a best of three with two of those final three games in Washington, but how much of an advantage does that really give the Caps?

"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," Trotz said. "I think we have been since we got here. We've just got to do it at home."

The various playoff struggles the Caps have suffered in the Alex Ovechkin era have been well-documented to this point. One particularly maddening issue is the team's struggles to win at home. Since 2008, the first year the Ovechkin-led Caps made the playoffs, the team is just 28-25 in home playoff games. Since 2015, Trotz's first season as head coach, the Caps are 12-10 in Washington.

Part of that is just the nature of hockey. Upsets are prevalent in the playoffs in the NHL and home-ice advantage does not mean as much as it does in other sports. But it should mean more than 28-25.

Besides having the crowd on your side, home ice also provides matchup advantages. The home team gets the second line change at home, meaning during a stoppage in play the home coach gets the opportunity to see who the opponent puts on the ice before making his own change. For the Caps, this means getting Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against Artemi Panarin.

Trotz has matched his top shutdown pair against Columbus' top line all series long. According to Natural Stat Trick, when Niskanen was on the ice in Game 4 he held Panarin's Corsi For percentage to 36.36. When Niskanen was not on the ice, Panarin's percentage shot up to 71.43. 

Theoretically, it should be much easier for Trotz to get those favorable matchups at home. Now all the Caps have to do is take advantage.

"Our home record hasn't been really great in the last little stretch at the end of the season here and obviously the first two games of the playoffs," Trotz said. "We owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that."

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