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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.”

Eastern Conference

Devils’ Jesper Bratt Out 2-3 Weeks

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New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt will be out 2-3 weeks with a broken jaw.

Bratt, 20, was injured Thursday when he was hit in the face by a puck that was shot from the point and deflected off the crossbar.

“It was just a freak accident after practice; he was in the corner and there was a shot that went to the net and it hit the crossbar and inadvertently hit him,” Devils head coach John Hynes said (h/t NHL.com). “He has a fracture and no surgery is needed, so that’s good news. He should be able to continue his physical activity over the course of that time and he’ll be back ready to go when that time comes.”

“It stinks because he’s had a great training camp,” Devils forward Travis Zajac said. “He was playing better than how he started last year, but he’ll get a chance to come back even stronger. It’s one of those things as a young guy you just have to take in stride, not let it bother you, and just make sure you’re prepared to contribute when you do come back.”

“I met up with him right away after practice Thursday, and you feel so bad for him,” New Jersey forward Marcus Johansson stated. “This is once-in-a-lifetime thing to play an NHL game in Sweden and having family and friends here. He was playing really well, too, and working hard all summer.

“It’s not a fun situation and he’s not happy right now, but he’s a young kid and he has a lot of hockey ahead of him so you don’t want to risk anything by coming back too soon.”

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Eastern Conference

Panthers’ Derek MacKenzie Retiring at End of Season

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Florida Panthers forward Derek MacKenzi will be calling it a career at the end of the 2018-2019 season, according to The Athletic’s George Richards.

MacKenzie, 37, is entering his 18th season and 5th with Florida and stated that he would like to stay involved with the organization when his retirement becomes official.

 

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Eastern Conference

Islanders Name Anders Lee Captain

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The New York Islanders have officially named Anders Lee team captain, who will don the “C” after the departure of former team captain John Tavares during free agency, per an official team announcement.

Lee, 28, is coming off a career year which saw him collect 40 goals.

Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, and Andrew Ladd will serve as the team’s alternate captains.

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