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Eastern Conference

Capitals’ T.J. Oshie Says Team Must Break Out This Season

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It’s been a rough offseason for the Washington Capitals but despite the loss of a few key plays, forward T.J. Oshie is putting the pressure on for the team to do better next season.

Oshie is expecting the Caps new players to step up.

“We lost a lot of really, really good players, and I think we knew that was going to happen,” Oshie said on Monday (h/t NHL.com).

“Now we’re going to need a lot of younger guys to fill in for a lot of different roles.”

“I’m looking for everyone to take that next step,” Oshie said.

“It’s not one or two guys; we need everyone to get on board and to find that next level. From our star players to our support players and to the guys that play the dirty minutes, we need everyone.”

Washington won the Presidents’ Trophy in back-to-back seasons but were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in both years.

“I don’t expect us to run away with it like we did the past couple years in the regular season,” Oshie said.

Still, Oshie is confident that the Capitals can do much more.

“You look at our goal scoring and we have [Ovechkin] coming back for another great year,” Oshie said.

“[Nicklas Backstrom], who in my mind is the best two-way center in the League, and then you got [forward Evgeny Kuznetsov] who also got that big contract (eight years, $64 million). That’s a pretty solid group with a lot of offensive threat.

“But again, we can’t rely on one or two or three guys to make or break us. We will really need to make it a group effort to make up for players that we’ve lost and to help lead the young guys that are now going to be stepping in.”

Oshie looks specifically at Pittsburgh as a team who had their young players step up and wants Washington to do the same.

“You look at Pittsburgh, for instance, and see how they had those young guys step up,” Oshie said.

“That’s what we are going to need to do. Between the younger players stepping up and the veteran players continuing to produce at the high level they have, we’ll be OK.

“We just need to keep playing our best hockey, starting at training camp, and be ready for playoffs when they roll around.”

Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings’ Jeff Blashill Has Doubts that Henrik Zetterberg will Return this Season

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Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill has his doubts when it comes to the potential of Henrik Zetterberg suiting up this season, uncertain that the 37-year old will be healthy enough to do so and admitting that his status is currently in the air.

“He’s had a hard summer and I don’t think his back is reacting great,” Red Wings’ head coach Jeff Blashill said earlier this week, according to Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News. “Certainly we’ll know more in a month (at training camp), but as of today, there’s a lot of doubt as to whether his back will be healthy enough to play.”

Zetterberg did play in all 82 games for Detroit last season, but it was a tough task to enable he could do so.

“As you know, Hank wasn’t able to practice for half the year,” Blashill said. “He was able to gut it out through those last two months where he wasn’t able to practice. There were nights I didn’t think he’d able to play and he did play.”

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Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets’ Zach Werenski Hoping to be Ready by Season Opener

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Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is hoping to avoid missing the start of the 2018-19 regular season as he continues to recover from undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this year, according BlueJackets’com’s Brian Hedger.

“My goal, ultimately, is to be there for Game 1,” Werenski said. “You never want to miss time, you never want to miss games, so my goal going into training camp and into the season is to be ready for Game 1.

“If it’s later, like Game 5 or Game 10, whenever that is, I’m going to work to miss as few games as possible and be ready to help the team.”

Werenski, 21, has begun skating but hasn’t progressed to contact drills as he continues his journey back.

“I feel great out there,” Werenski said. “There’s no problems right now. I’m just kind of ramping it up here, trying to get my timing back. Everything feels good on the ice. I haven’t had any contact yet. That’s not until later. I probably won’t do that until probably halfway through training camp, but everything is good. Everything’s on pace. I actually don’t know what my timeline is, to be honest, but I’m hoping to be back toward the start of training camp – probably not Day 1, but as soon as I can be.”

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Eastern Conference

Capitals Add Scott Arniel, Reid Cashman to Coaching Staff

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The Washington Capitals have added Scott Arniel and Reid Cashman as assistants to the staff of head coach Todd Reirden, according to a team announcement made on Monday.

Arniel played in 730 NHL games with the Winnipeg JetsBuffalo Sabres, and Boston Bruins throughout the 80s and early 90s, and served as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets from the 2010-2011 season until the 2011-2012 season.

Cashman, 35, was the assistant coach at Quinnipiac University, his Alma mater, for four seasons before being promoted to associate coach in his final year, and spent the last two seasons as an assistant with the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.

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