DSP giving Caps a 'spark' with Oshie sidelined

Josh Luckenbaugh
April 22, 2019 - 9:32 am

T.J. Oshie is officially out indefinitely due to a broken clavicle, leaving the Capitals with big shoes to fill for the remainder of the first round, and more than likely the rest of of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

But in Game 5 at least, Devante Smith-Pellyrecalled from Hershey last Friday — filled them admirably, playing with an energy and excitement the Caps hadn't seen much of in Games 3 and 4 and helping Washington dominate the Hurricanes 6-0 Saturday.

"Here's a fourth-line guy who was waived, not picked up by anyone. Every team had an opportunity to take Devante Smith-Pelly — and they all saw how clutch he was in the Stanley Cup run last year — not one team wanted him so he goes down to the AHL, because he was having a bad season," Rob Carlin told The Sports Junkies Monday.

"This guy goes down there and then a star T.J. Oshie gets hurt, and they bring him back up as a fourth-liner, and then they're chanting his name in the arena. That just doesn't happen."

"And after his first hit, the place went crazy and you could tell he was like, 'This is why I'm here. I have to add the spark, the energy.' And he did, he played a great game." 

Smith-Pelly didn't get on the score sheet but he impacted the game in other ways, leading the Caps with four hits, and NBC named him one of the "Three Stars" of Game 5.

"Maybe it was the game and he's getting too much credit, but I do feel like the crowd fed off his energy, he fed off the crowd and the team just went along," Carlin said.

"Had he scored (a) goal, Hollywood couldn't have written that script if this dude gets called up like that and is such a factor. It was a great story."

It will take more than Smith-Pelly to replace Oshie's production as the Caps' playoff run continues, but Carlin believes the reigning Stanley Cup champs have the passion and resiliency to keep the energy levels high. 

"Is there gonna be a huge hole to fill with T.J. Oshie? Of course there is a huge hole to fill, but no one cares," Carlin told the Junkies. "If they want to do that again, if Nicklas Backstrom is still addicted to that feeling of winning the Stanley Cup as he has repeatedly talked about, if Ovi is still addicted to that feeling and wants to feel it again, no one's gonna feel bad that T.J. Oshie's out."

"They'll have to figure out a way to do it the same way Pittsburgh did it without Kris Letang (during their Stanley Cup run in 2017)."

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