By the end of Thursday’s 7-2 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the sluggish stretch that plagued the Capitals for the two months prior was essentially forgotten.
The win moved them to 6-0-1 in March and essentially guaranteed the team a playoff spot as they looked primed to kick into gear before the playoffs begin in May. But perhaps the one thing that could put a damper on the mood happened in the third period.
Towards the end of the win, the Capitals announced that winger T.J. Oshie sustained a lower-body injury and would miss the remainder of the game. There was no clear injury to Oshie that was caught on camera.
The Capitals play against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night, meaning there could be clarity on the severity of his injury by that point. Additionally, it's certainly possible the injury was minor and considering the score, the Capitals played it safe.
But if there is no clarity moving forward, the Capitals will enter a scary waiting period.
Any long-term injury, or even any injury that keeps Oshie out for multiple games, would send the Capitals right back to where they had been for the majority of this season: Rearranging the lineup seemingly on a day-to-day basis.
Oshie, who tallied an assist in the win, now has 20 points in 28 games played this season. When he’s been in the lineup, he’s been his usual self. The problem has been that he’s missed large chunks of the season with various injuries and that’s cost the Capitals. He’s played just 12 games since 2022 began. In those 12 games, he has eight points and four goals.
With Oshie in the lineup, the Capitals’ lineup balanced out far better than before. Paired with since-returned Anthony Mantha and Nicklas Backstrom, the second line being back together helped the rest of the lineup return to a sense of normalcy. There weren’t constant changes to the forward lines, and that helped both the special teams and five-on-five play of the lineup.
Now, that’s a large unknown.
With the trade deadline coming on Monday, the Capitals are now in the precarious position of trying to figure out the extent of Oshie’s injury, and if they’ll need to replace him in the lineup by virtue of a trade before the 3 pm deadline.
For now, the Capitals will have to simply wait and hope Oshie’s lower-body injury isn’t one that will keep him in the press box for long. If it is, they’ll be without a leader and significant force on and off the ice.