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Oshie vows to 'hug it out' after game against Blues

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Oshie vows to 'hug it out' after game against Blues

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.”

MORE CAPITALS: Could Caps be shaking up their lineup in final week?

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Game 58: Capitals at Blackhawks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 58: Capitals at Blackhawks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

When: 8:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blackhawks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Blackhawks game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

The Capitals (33-17-7) take on the Blackhawks (24-26-8) Saturday, February 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET in Chicago.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Blackhawks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 7:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 8:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 11:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 12:30 a.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

7:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
8:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blackhawks
11:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
12:30 a.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Blackhawks game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Alex Chiasson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Jakub Vrana, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

The Capitals-Blackhawks game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

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NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

A week by week look at where the race for the major individual NHL awards stands and which Caps could be in contention.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been red-hot as of late and so has Evgeni Malkin. In his last nine games, Malkin has tallied a whopping 11 goals and 17 points. His current run has some people talking about him contending for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

But if you want to talk about Malkin for the Hart, you have to talk about Alex Ovechkin as well.

Malkin has 66 points this season, Ovechkin has 65. Even with his impressive goal run of late, Malkin still trails Ovechkin in the goal-scoring race 34-32. What's more, Ovechkin's Capitals still hold a three-point lead over Pittsburgh with two games in hand in the Metropolitan Division.

Granted all of this could change by next week. Perhaps Malkin will pass Ovechkin in goals or the Penguins will pass the Caps in the standings which will change the conversation. Until then, however, there's no way to push Malkin's Hart candidacy without thinking about Ovechkin. What he is doing at the age of 32 with a Capitals team in which no one really knew what to expect is more impressive than what the 31-year-old Malkin is doing with players like Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is third among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With two rookies on the blue line and an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Braden Holtby

In contention for: Vezina

Holtby is on pace to be a 40-win goalie for the fourth consecutive season. He would be the first goalie in NHL history to accomplish that feat.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

If Malkin is a Hart candidate, so is Ovechkin who has done more with less in Washington this season.

Barry Trotz

In contention for: Jack Adams

The Caps still hold a three-point lead in the Metropolitan Division despite having two rookies on the blue line, dealing with more injuries than they have seen in years and down offensive years for some of its top players. Trotz deserves a lot of credit for that.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!