WASHINGTON — In both of T.J. Oshie’s seasons with the Capitals, he’s experienced the sting of playoff elimination, and worse, each time by bitter rival Pittsburgh in the second round. The Penguins have gone on to win consecutive Stanley Cups since.
Now, after signing a $46-million extension, the 30-year-old forward has eight more opportunities to right those wrongs, though he’s yet to get over that first second-round exit in 2016.
“I think until we collectively as a group find a way to bring our best game to the table in mid- and late-May, or whenever it seems like that second round is, until we are able to beat the Pens and find a way to get ourselves competitively to that level that they’ve been able to reach, I don’t think I’m going to be able to get over it,” he said.
Capitals fans, having witnessed their team go 1-9 in playoff series against the Penguins, will perhaps laugh off Oshie’s remark as youthful innocence, knowing this anguish all too well themselves. But Oshie prioritized winning a Stanley Cup with high importance when choosing his next team.
“I’m part of the history now here in D.C.,” he said. “So I understand that the second-round exits are becoming a little too routine. But I still think there’s not another team in the league that you could look at going into the next season and say that they have a better chance, or a team that’s not right up there with the Capitals, in being able to contend.”
“I’m in the same boat as you guys are,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than seeing them going and winning the Cup and knowing that maybe we were 60 minutes away from playing our best game, to going on to the next round, and you never know what happens then.
“It’s frustrating. It’s a letdown. For me, it’s a sense of motivation when I’m in the weight room, when I’m working on my game on the ice, to find a way to elevate my game and be able to sustain it throughout the year, and certainly in the playoffs.”
His top free-agent priority was finding a great place for he and his wife, Lauren, to raise their two young daughters.
“We wanted to be somewhere we were comfortable with the girls on the team,” he said. “Raising a family.”
With those boxes checked, it came down to financials. Oshie knew re-signing with the Capitals would mean sacrificing dollars in average annual value, so he sought the security of a longer-term deal as a trade-off.
“Everything, honestly, worked out great for us,” he said. “Hopefully [GM Brian MacLellan] feels the same way. Obviously, or he wouldn’t have made the deal. We couldn’t be happier and we’re very comfortable with where we’re at.”