T.J. Oshie can still remember the nervous anticipation he felt on July 2 during a phone conversation with St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong.
He knew he had just been traded, but to …
“There was maybe a second pause that seemed like a five minute pause,” Oshie recalled. “It felt like it took forever for him to say the Washington Capitals.”
In the hours that followed the trade that sent right wing Troy Brouwer and goaltender Pheonix Copley to St. Louis, Oshie’s emotions ran the gamut, from the sadness of leaving a city he had called home for seven years to the excitement of making a fresh start with a new team.
“It’s tough getting traded, especially when you’ve been somewhere as long as I was,” said Oshie, who will make his long-awaited St. Louis return tonight when the Capitals face the Blues in Scottrade Center (8 p.m., CSN).
“You have good friends, it’s your home, you’ve been there your whole career. And then when (Armstrong) said Washington I was real excited to get here and play with some world-class players. I’d heard nothing but good things about Trotzy (head coach Barry Trotz).
“It’s been a really great experience so far. We’ve obviously had a pretty good season and now we’re looking to get our game in top shape before the playoffs.”
While Oshie has enjoyed one of the most productive seasons of his career – his 26 goals are a career high and his 50 points are third-most in his career – on a team having one of its most successful seasons, the Blues have done quite well themselves. St. Louis is tied with Dallas for the most points in the Western Conference and Brouwer is a big reason with 18 goals and 39 points.
Capitals defenseman Mike Weber, who is expected to play either tonight in St. Louis or at home on Sunday against the Ducks, said Oshie should be fired up to play his old team for the first time, even it if is ninth months after he was traded.
“That was his home for a while, he had a great run there,” Weber said. “Any time you get traded you kind of want to go back and prove to that organization that they made a mistake and they should have kept you around. It’s their loss and our gain. I never played against him a lot because he was in the Western Conference so many years, but he battles hard and he competes hard shift in and shift out. We want to get a big win for him.”
Oshie said he “grew up quite a bit” in his seven years in St. Louis and made “lifelong friends” in his time with the Blues,
inviting many of his former teammates to his wedding, including Blues captain David Backes.
“It’ll be emotional going out for warmups and the national anthem and maybe the first couple shifts,” Oshie said, “but I think with the time that’s gone by, it’s been a full season almost – Washington feels like my new home now. It will be weird going against some of my really good buddies, guys that were standing next to me at my wedding, but it’ll be fun. It will be a good battle. Both me and them respect the game enough to have a hard, tight match.
“They know the nature of my game and I know how they play there. I think it’s going to be a hard game. I’m sure I’ll get a couple hits in and I’ll probably get a couple licks on me. We’ll probably hug it out after.”
Oshie said the Capitals, who have lost three in a row for the first time all season, have some work to do in their final two games if they hope to be ready for a long playoff run.
“I think we haven’t focused or bore down enough on the little things in the game,” he said. “We kind of want stuff to come to us right now instead of working for it. I think if we clean that stuff up we’ll spend less time in our D zone and create a lot more offense. As you know, in playoffs it takes just one mistake or one play to change the momentum of the game. If we’re sharp on the little things I think we’ll be fine.”
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