Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was a full participant at Monday’s practice, expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday in Dallas after missing the past six games with a concussion.
“He’s making the trip,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “I can’t tell you if he’ll play. We’ll see how he is, see how the plane ride is and we’ll make a decision tomorrow.”
Oshie got hurt earlier this month in a game against the San Jose Sharks, when Joe Thornton’s backside crunched Oshie’s head against the glass. Through 28 games, Oshie has 10 goals with 13 assists, averaging 18:56 per game as he plays on both special teams. He said this was the fourth documented head injury of his career.
“This one was the least severe of the other ones,” Oshie said. “I’m ready to go now.”
Asked if suffering four concussions worried him, Oshie said, “Not really.”
“I don’t really worry about too much stuff,” Oshie continued. “I mean, obviously, it’d be better to have zero. But it’s a physical game, I like to get out there, and it’s not going to change my game at all. I imagine if I’m out in Dallas, first shift, I’m going to go out and try to hit someone and we’ll go from there.”
Oshie will return to a line with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and left wing Jakub Vrana. In 69-plus five-on-five minutes on the ice together, that trio has been on the ice together for six goals while being scored on just once, according to Natural Stat Trick. When that line has been on the ice, the Capitals have taken more than 63 percent of the shot attempts.
“The process is kind of the same as it always is,” Oshie said. “You take a couple days until you start feeling a little better, you jump on a bike and then you just keep progressing through the protocols. For the most part, it went pretty smooth. I think you always want to get back earlier as a player and we’ve got a good staff and good docs that hold you back until you’re ready. So I feel ready right now. We’ve a good five days here in a row.”
Tuesday’s game in Dallas will mark the first time that this roster of players has been fully healthy. With Oshie getting back in the lineup, Alex Chiasson was moved back down to the fourth line, skating with Jay Beagle and Chandler Stephenson. That means Devante Smith-Pelly is expected to be scratched for the first time this season. The team is riding a three-game winning streak entering the week-long road trip.
“I think the lines have been pretty good,” Trotz said. “It creates competition and you have some flexibility. Guys have moved up in lines and have done extremely well and other guys, certain lines have got a little bit of an identity. Sometimes when you get a guy like T.J. back, if I were to put him back with Kuz, for instance, maybe that line is not as effective for a couple games. You don’t know.
“But T.J.’s a real good player for us, he’s a big part of what we do and if he’s healthy and ready to go, I have no problem putting him in the lineup. He’s been a terrific player for us since he’s been here.”
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