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Oshie hoping to represent Capitals at All-Star Game

Looking to boost case for Last Men In vote during 'Wednesday Night Hockey' against Flyers

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- T.J. Oshie has vacation plans, but the Washington Capitals forward wouldn't hesitate to change them to play in the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Jan. 25.

Oshie is Washington's candidate on the ballot for the 2020 NHL All-Star Last Men In presented by adidas fan vote and hopes to be added to the Metropolitan Division roster for what would be the 33-year-old's first All-Star Game appearance.  

Oshie bolstered his case by scoring twice in a 6-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. He is tied with Jakub Vrana for second on the Capitals with 18 goals heading into their "Wednesday Night Hockey" game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBSCN).

 

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"I think it's pretty cool," Oshie said of the Last Men In vote. "Obviously, the break is always nice. But for a guy like me that's never been to an All-Star Game, it probably would feel a little more special than some of the other guys that have been either every year of their career or guys that have been a couple times. But it's pretty good. If I get in, great. If not, my vacation is already planned."

Each of the 31 NHL teams has a representative in the Last Men In voting, which closes Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Fans can vote at NHL.com/Vote or on a mobile interactive ballot on the NHL app.

The player with the most votes from each of the four divisions will be added to the All-Star Game rosters that were announced Dec. 30.

If Oshie wins the vote for the Metropolitan Division spot, he'd join defenseman John Carlson, goalie Braden Holtby and coach Todd Reirden representing the Capitals in St. Louis. 

"T.J., he does so much for us," Reirden said. "Just playing a few nights ago when he was really sick, the leadership he has in our room, the energy he brings, plays in all situations, I would certainly like to have him in the All-Star Game with me."

Video: OTT@WSH: Oshie adjusts, strikes quickly from the slot

Playing in his first All-Star Game in St. Louis would have additional meaning for Oshie because he began his NHL career there. The St. Louis Blues selected Oshie with the No. 24 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft and he played seven seasons for them before being traded to the Capitals on July 2, 2015.

Oshie has fit in well and become a leader with Washington, which signed him to an eight-year, $46 million contract June 23, 2017. He scored at least 25 goals in three of his first four seasons with the Capitals, including an NHL career-high 33 in 2016-17, and helped them win their first championship in 2018, when he had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

But St. Louis continues to be a special place for Oshie and he was happy to see the Blues win the Stanley Cup for the first time last season.

"Obviously, I've got a little history there and it would be great to get back there and see the fans," Oshie said. "So there would be a little bit more meaning behind (playing in the All-Star Game) because it's in St. Louis instead of somewhere else."

Since joining the Capitals, Oshie has scored 120 goals, second behind Alex Ovechkin's 209. With 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) in 44 games, he's on pace for 62 points (61.5), which would surpass his NHL career-high of 60 with the Blues in 2013-14.

Video: SJS@WSH: Oshie nets game-tying goal from circle late

Oshie's seven power-play goals are second on the Capitals behind Ovechkin's nine. He's scored three of Washington's NHL-leading seven 6-on-5 goals, including the tying goal with 14.2 seconds left in the third period of a 5-4 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 5, and is the only player in the NHL this season to score more than twice at 6-on-5.

But he rates his play this season as "OK" so far.

"I feel like I've been doing a lot of little things right," Oshie said. "I'd like to have more goals, obviously. I'd like to pitch in more on the power play when I get those looks and just in general. I think it's just been OK. I think there's another level I've got to get to before we hit the postseason here."

Beyond his statistics, Oshie has become an important part of the Capitals' leadership group and has taken Vrana, his 23-year-old linemate, under his wing this season. Vrana has scored 18 even-strength goals, tying him with Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon for third-most in the NHL.

"I guess there's maybe a little bit of a big brother thing going on," Oshie said. "We just bonded a lot and we just have fun playing with each other."

That bond helps when things aren't going as well, too. When Vrana was mired in a 10-game goal drought Dec. 9-31, Oshie helped him keep from getting down on himself. Vrana ended his slump by scoring a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 3 and scored two more against San Jose.

"He's such a positive guy," Vrana said of Oshie. "He likes to have fun. He's going out there and playing hockey and having fun, and I do the same thing. When you put two players like that together, you see the excitement, see the chemistry"

Understandably, Vrana would love to see Oshie be rewarded by going to his first All-Star Game.

"He deserves it," Vrana said. "He's a great teammate, a great player, works really hard and I think he has lots of skills that prove he should be there."

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