Why Oshie could play center in Game 1

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Why Oshie could play center in Game 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

T.J. Oshie will be a game-time decision for Game 1 (7:15 p.m., NBC) on Saturday against the Boston Bruins, head coach Peter Laviolette said after the morning skate. If Oshie does play, it appears it could be at center and not wing.

Oshie has had to play center at several points this season with the team dealing with a multitude of injuries and players coming in and out of the lineup, but he is a natural wing. The addition of Michael Raffl at the trade deadline was viewed as a move to add center depth. Raffl typcially plays wing, but has more experience at center.

With Evgeny Kuznetsov still on the the NHL's COVID absence list, the team has a hole at center to fill, but, at the morning skate at least, it was Oshie filling in at that position and not Raffl.

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"[Raffl's] been really, really good at what he's done, being a real positive player on the ice with the way he plays the game, stopping team, generating offense, playing in the offensive zone, not so much in the defensive zone," Laviolette said, "So he's done some real good things for us. That line has played together and been successful."

One of the major challenges the Caps face in this series is trying to defend Boston's top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. With Raffl on a line with Conor Sheary and Lars Eller, those are three players together who can play a strong two-way game which makes them a likely matchup for Boston's top line.

Having Oshie play center is obviously not ideal, but when a team is missing one of its top two centers from the lineup, there's really no perfect solution for how to replace a player like that.

In regards to Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov, Laviolette said he did not want to answer questions about them on game day but that he may have answers on Sunday.

Laviolette also would not name a starting goalie for Game 1, but all signs point to Vitek Vanecek.