Over the summer, general manager Brian MacLellan gave TJ Oshie an eight-year, $46 million extension that would keep the forward in DC until 2025. After scoring 26 times during the 2015-16 season, Oshie tied Alex Ovechkin for the team lead in goals (33) in 2016-17, setting a new personal career high. This season, however, after a strong start on the power play (7 PPG in his first 21 games), Oshie has seen his production drop.
Since missing six games in December due to his fourth documented concussion, Oshie has struggled to produce, tallying only six points (1g, 5a) in his last 15 contests.
Wednesday night against the Flyers, Oshie ended a 14-game goalless streak after being fed a wide open opportunity by Evgeny Kuznetsov.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 1, 2018
The goal was Oshie’s eighth PPG of the season, which puts him one shy of Alex Ovechkin for the team lead. The extra-man marker was Oshie’s first since a November 18 game against the Minnesota Wild.
To celebrate, Oshie raised his hands high into the air, seemingly letting out weeks of frustration.
On the bench, Oshie’s teammates were proud he was finally off the schneid.
“Pretty nice, pretty relieving getting that goal,” Oshie said after the game. “Hopefully the flood gates will open up for me here.
“It was a great play by Kuzy to get it to me in the spot on the power play there,” Oshie continued. “That’s pretty much it. I had a couple other chances in front of the net. That one I practice it enough. Usually those ones should go in.”
Oshie also admitted that his celly had some emotion in it.
“That was a little dramatic,” Oshie said. “I actually thought about that like ten games ago that I was going to do that, and then ten games later I finally got the chance. You want to be able to help the team and sometimes you need a little confirmation by putting one on the back of the net and I think that’s what happened for me tonight.”
Meanwhile, head coach Barry Trotz was happy to see three of his players end long goalless streaks on the same night. On top of Oshie’s tally, Chandler Stephenson ended a 28-game streak with two goals on the same shift and Andre Burakovsky ended a personal 10-game drought.
Burakovsky taps in a pass from 🐅 for the PP goal pic.twitter.com/LTNvZ5zo42
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 1, 2018
“I was happy for Andre. I was happy for Osh,” Barry Trotz said. “It’s been awhile.”
While many fans surmise that Oshie’s lack of production is due to the fact he’s been playing hurt or not quite the same after his last concussion, the underlying numbers suggest something different. The Caps forward’s play hasn’t shown a regression from before or after the concussion; it’s been nearly the same.
TJ Oshie's 5v5 individual offense rates before and after his concussion. pic.twitter.com/eRwvNvNC3m
— Peter Hassett (@peterhassett) December 29, 2017
And a 20-game rolling sample beginning from last season suggests a totally different issue: Oshie has not been the same player all season long.
Click to enlarge. The 2017-18 season begins after game 82 on the graph. (Graph by Peter Hassett)
Oshie’s production on the PP — nearly half of his points this season have come with an extra man (13 out of 30) — has hid some deeper problems at five-on-five.
Whatever the issue may be (which will need further research) — different line-mates, age regression, or chaotic shooting percentages regressing back to the mean — Oshie is struggling.
Graph via HockeyViz.com
“I’ve been working on my game a little bit, doing different things here and there,” Oshie said. “When you’re struggling a little bit to puck in the net, you do things a little bit different. I had three different tape jobs, a couple different lengths of my sticks. I was doing everything.”
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