After a mostly un-fighty preseason, the Washington Capitals had all the fights against the Philadelphia Flyers in their preseason finale on Friday.
The chaos began late in the second period after Garrett Wilson (no relation to Tom Wilson) threw a hard, legal hit on defenseman Michal Kempny along the boards. The bodycheck immediately got the attention of TJ Oshie, who was concerned about Kempny’s well-being after suffering three severe left leg injuries over the last three years.
So the six-foot Osh dropped his gloves and threw hands with Wilson, a heavyweight forward apparently unconcerned that the mammoth 6-foot-3, 218-pound journeyman had fought 65 times throughout his 13-year junior, minor league, and NHL career.
Oshie didn’t get a punch off, yet he still held his own at the same time.
“You got in there, man,” a laughing Tom Wilson said to Oshie while the two shared a podium postgame.
A reporter then asked TJ if he should be considered a Capitals enforcer.
“No, no!” he replied.
“Osh actually always ends up picking a tough guy to go with,” Wilson said. “One of his first bouts was with (Bruins defenseman Adam) McQuaid and he always holds his own. He’s strong. He’s strong. Right side, so…”
“If you pick the big guys, you can’t lose,” Oshie quipped, acknowledging that even if he doesn’t win the fight, he’ll still look good if he takes on the toughest customer on the ice.
“I don’t think the hit ended up being bad but the lead up to it, it looked like it was possibly, from my angle, he was maybe going to cross-check him in the side of the ribs there,” Oshie explained. “So I went. I think he thought I was going to jump him, which maybe I would have done better in the fight if I did. And then we had a little chat and went after it. I like to think that any guy in the locker room would have done the same thing if it was me getting hit. Close group of guys and we stick up for each other.”
Oshie has only face-punched nine times during his 13-year career in the NHL, but has taken on experienced fighters like McQuaid, Brayden Schenn, and Kris Letang.
“Osh is the ultimate teammate,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s not something you typically see him do. After that, our team took off. When he got out of the box, it reset our compass between the second and third periods. You talk about that, our guys played a much more spirited third period.”
"It was just a physical one. Those are fun ones to play in even if it is preseason."
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 9, 2021
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