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|T.J. Oshie found his father on the ice amid the jubilant madness of the Washington Capitals‘ postgame celebration and wrapped him in a fierce hug.
Five years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease [url=http://www.officialkings.com/authentic-adidas-drew-doughty-jersey]Drew Doughty Jersey[/url] , Tim Oshie’s memory is inconsistent and cloudy.
Anyone who saw the depth of emotion in his Stanley Cup-winning son’s eyes Thursday night will never forget it.
Right after Oshie won his first NHL title in the Capitals’ 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, the veteran forward’s thoughts were on his family – particularly his father, who fostered his son’s love of the sport as a coach and a hockey dad in Everett, Washington, north of Seattle.
”My dad, he doesn’t remember a lot of stuff these days,” Oshie said, his voice choking with emotion . ”He remembers enough. But I tell you what, he’s here tonight. I don’t know where he’s at, but this one will stick with him forever. You can guarantee that.”
Moments later, Oshie found him. Tim had watched the game alongside his sister and daughter in the T-Mobile Arena stands.
Oshie was outstanding throughout Washington’s playoff run, racking up eight goals and 13 assists in 24 games as the Caps’ fourth-leading scorer. He had a goal and two assists in the Caps’ 6-2 victory in Game 4 of the Final, which he finished with six points in five games.
”I’ve never seen a team come together like we did here,” Oshie said. ”I’ve never seen the commitment from start to finish like we had here.”
The Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory was a crowning achievement for the 31-year-old Oshie, a 10-year NHL veteran with stops in St. Louis and Washington after beginning his pursuit of the sport in the Pacific Northwest, which doesn’t produce pro hockey players in high volume.
Oshie said he couldn’t have done it without steadfast support from Tim, who served as a coach for one of T.J.’s childhood teams in Everett. They both later moved to Minnesota for T.J.’s high school career.
”To have him here is amazing,” Oshie said of his father. ”He doesn’t travel very well, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to get him out all playoffs. It was kind of a perfect storm to get him with my aunt and sister out from Seattle.”
Later in the celebration, Oshie went for a celebratory skate with his young daughters, Lyla and Leni.
”Besides my family [url=http://www.officialsenators.com/authentic-adidas-chris-wideman-jersey]Chris Wideman Jersey[/url] , that’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” he said. ”It’s for my family. For my two little girls. I got my name on something so they’ll know that dad played hockey when they grow up.”
Oshie already carved out a place in hockey history four years ago while playing for the U.S. team at the Sochi Olympics. He dominated a shootout against Russia in unbelievable fashion when coach Dan Bylsma sent him out six times. Oshie scored four goals in the eight-round shootout, including the game-winner for the Americans to beat Alex Ovechkin and the Russians.
Oshie’s already strong popularity among Caps fans got a boost last week when he took Washington’s public Metro trains to Games 3 and 4.
His heartfelt love for his father will be another indelible memory of the Caps’ championship season.
”His memory is slipping a little,” Oshie said. ”This is one memory that I don’t think he’s going to forget.”
More Stanley Cup coverage: Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is closer than ever to playing for the Stanley Cup, and he’s determined to make the most of the opportunity.
”I’ve never been in this position before,” he said Tuesday, looking ahead to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The winner Wednesday night earns a berth in the Stanley Cup Final opposite the Vegas Golden Knights, who will try for hockey’s biggest prize in their inaugural season.
Ovechkin and the Caps are hoping to shed a label as playoff underachievers, a franchise that dazzles during the regular season only to disappoint at the most important time of the year.
”I’m excited. We’re all excited. … We all want to be in this position and move forward,” said Ovechkin, who is playing in the conference final for the first time during his prolific 13-year career.
”(Wednesday night) is probably biggest game in my life, this team, organization probably. … We still haven’t reached our goal. Tomorrow is going to be a huge step forward.”
Not if the Lightning have their way.
Tampa Bay is playing Game 7 in the conference final for the third time in four years. It beat the New York Rangers on the road to advance to the 2015 Cup Final, but fell short the following year against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
”Experience is always a good thing, but it’s nothing I’m going to sit and lean on,” said Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-1 in Game 7s during his career. ”It’s about doing your job at the highest level you possibly can.”
Washington forced Wednesday’s winner-take-all matchup with a dominating 3-0 victory in Game 6.
In a series where home ice has not been a clear advantage, the Lightning are hoping it provides an edge in Game 7.
Washington won Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, then dropped the next two at home. The Capitals are 7-2 on the road this postseason.
”When you get this deep into a series, everyone knows each other by heart. Now it really comes down to a little bit of will. You have to will yourself for this moment,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
”I do like the fact there will be 19 [url=http://www.losangelesramsteamonline.com/jared-goff-jersey]Womens Jared Goff Jersey[/url] ,000 people helping us, to will us to victory. I want the guys to enjoy the game. It will be a phenomenal experience. … You just have to remember, don’t let the game get bigger than it really is. Go out there, execute, leave everything out there and we’ll see what happens.”
This will be Washington’s 11th Game 7 since the start of the 2008 playoffs, most among all NHL teams in that span. None of them, however, have been for a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after Monday night’s win in Washington that there’s no other team he has coached that he would rather lead into a seventh game.
”We just keep taking whatever challenge is thrown at us and build off it. This group doesn’t waver. It has a spirit about it, a strong spirit,” he said.
”This team has done a lot of special things this year, it’s grown, it continues to do that,” Trotz added. ”What an opportunity going into Tampa. … We’ll see if we can earn the right to keep playing.”
And while that undoubtedly would be a major breakthrough for Ovechkin, Trotz reiterated the Capitals all have a lot invested.
”The opportunity is not only for Alex, but for everybody,” he said. ”Everybody that gets a chance to be in a Game 7, which will allow you to go to the finals. It’s exciting, it’s fun.”