WASHINGTON, D.C. — T.J. Oshie and Matt Niskanen surprised commuters on Saturday when they left their cars at home and took the subway to work.
Based on the results in Game 3, which the Washington Capitals won 3-1, it could be something they try again for Game 4 on Monday. Just don’t ask them what stop they got on or even what line they happened to be riding.
“Orange or silver,” said Niskanen. “I don’t want to give away our location, but there’s a stop somewhat near our house, and we live in the state of Virginia.”
The pair, who said they were hoping to avoid traffic, got an up-close and personal experience with several fans. They might have even made a cameo in a “pump-up video” on the playoffs.
“It was great. It was actually really easy for us to get down there,” said Oshie. “The fans seemed very excited, but were also very respectful and kind of just wished us luck along the way. The closer we got, the more fans got on and it was cool. It was cool to see. I think we actually got on some TV or someone was doing some type of simulated Caps march and we happened to be walking right behind the march, so we might be in some type of pump-up video or something, but it was cool. It was fun. It was a different way. I’ve never gone that way before. Pretty simple.”
Devante Smith-Pelly has four goals in this year’s playoffs. It’s a big number for a fourth-line forward. It’s even bigger when you consider the New Jersey Devils bought him out of his contract at the end of last season and he arrived in Washington on a try-out offer, eventually signing a two-way contract worth the league minimum.
“When he got here, the first conversation we had with each other was finding out about his background,” said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz. “And I said … ‘Let’s see if we can build a brand that’s sustainable, so that you can not be bouncing around a little bit from team to team and have a long, sustainable career.’”
“His career’s gone up and down a little bit like a lot of guys,” said forward Brett Connolly, whose journey to Washington followed a similar path. “He’s stepped up huge for us and we’re going to need him to keep doing what he’s been doing, for sure.”
DON’T BLAME SHEA
Shea Theodore, who made two costly mistakes that directly led to a couple of Washington goals in Game 3, took the blame for the 3-1 loss on Saturday. But a day later, head coach Gerard Gallant made a point of coming to the rookie’s defence.
“Did Shea do something really bad? He plays the game like everybody else,” said Gallant. “He made a couple mistakes. Ended up in the back of our net. A lot of guys make mistakes in a hockey game, and they don’t end up in the back of the net.
“Shea’s a 22-year-old kid who I love. He’s a great player. He’s going to be a star in this league.”
DMITRY DOES DEFENCE
Washington’s Dmitry Orlov has gone six games without a point, but the offensive-minded defenceman has shown a different side to his game with his attention to defence. He and his partner, Niskanen, are a combined plus-12 in the playoffs against some of their team’s toughest match-ups.
“I think he’s had a really good year the whole year,” defenceman Brooks Orpik said of the 26-year-old. “(Orlov) is probably a little bit more flashy than (Niskanen), but they’re both very efficient … I think it’s definitely the most consistent (Orlov’s) been since the time I’ve been here and he’s still pretty young, especially for a defenceman. I think that’s probably the encouraging part. He keeps getting better and better, and with his work ethic, I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.”
David Perron is still searching for his first goal of the post-season and thinks he knows why the 25-game drought, which goes back three months, has lasted as long as it has: rust.
“I missed half the first round and half the third round,” said Perron, who has played in 14 of Vegas’ 18 games. “I’m sure everybody can play more simple. But as a line, we’re offensive guys, and if there’s a play, we need to execute. That’s why we made it up to this point because we executed all year. We’ve got to do it again.”
SID VS OVIE
Orpik has been teammates with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. But just because he’s spent the past 13 years with two of the sport’s greatest players does not mean he has any insight as to what makes them tick.
“They don’t have a lot in common, to be honest with you,” Orpik said. “They’re obviously both very, very high-profile, successful guys in the league. But without getting into too many details, their approaches are completely different.”
SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE
Happy. Sad. Angry. Relieved.
Ovechkin’s emotions have been on full display during these playoffs. And it’s something Trotz said the rest of the team feeds off of.
“You could probably do a documentary just on the different emotions he’s had throughout all these series,” said Trotz. “It’s actually great to see. In this game, we sometimes become a little bit muted because of things that are said or are taken out of context … and to see a guy just leave his emotions out there, I think that’s refreshing to you people and to the human spirit.
“I think it’s really interesting to see how emotionally when you’re invested the way he is and how much it means to him, how much you can have an affect on the game.”
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