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Déjà Vu Experience for Oshie, But Still Totally Worth It

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Oshie has plenty of international experience for Team USA, but it's still just as fun every time.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

It's a familiar spot for T.J. Oshie as he sits in the Washington Capitals locker room-turned-Team USA locker room.

Team USA placed Oshie in the exact same spot as he normally sits when he puts on his Washington gear.

"They put me right at home here," Oshie said with a smile. "Works out pretty well. It's only my second year, but I don't think they're going to move me around. I feel comfortable right here."

That's another familiar feeling for Oshie: comfort. Whether he's positioned on the top line with Capitals' teammates Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom or situated right on the third line of Team USA, he's comfortable.

But that comfort extends to the teams themselves.

As Oshie gears for the World Cup of Hockey, he will participate in his sixth international tournament, and that essentially makes Oshie a veteran on this team. Only Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise has more international appearances than Oshie's six among the forward group.

Oshie has played in the 2006 World Junior Championship, the 2009, 2010 and 2013 World Championship and, of course, the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Perhaps Oshie's most famous moment in his hockey career came during those 2014 Olympics, when Oshie went out for six shootout attempts against Russia, including Team USA's final five attempts, making four of them. That sealed USA the win in an absolutely epic proportion.

It also made Oshie a shoo-in when the Team USA brass began constructing their World Cup roster, as did the fact that he was coming off of a career-best 26 goals this past season and 51 total points, making him one of the most electric forwards Team USA can possibly ice. Still, while it may have been obvious to an outsider that Oshie was on the roster, Oshie wasn't as convinced as most that he was among the most indisputable choices.

"I was ecstatic when I was named to the team in that first group," Oshie said.

That excitement spills out through all of Washington. Representatives from the Capitals riddle the World Cup, with the team sending nine players to the tournament - third-most in the League, behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning (12) and Chicago Blackhawks (10).

That spread of talented wealth recently made things interesting for Oshie and his fellow Capitals, Matt Niskanen and John Carlson. In last Saturday's game against Team Canada, Oshie and his teammates squared off against a familiar face: Goaltender Braden Holtby.

And, to make things even more amusing, Carlson scored on Holtby.

"I was pretty excited when that happened," Oshie said. "Knowing how much Carly and Holts go back and forth, I don't think he's ever going to let that one go."

But Oshie and his teammates have a larger goal than just ribbing on their NHL teammates. Team USA is very much vying for a championship, and Oshie in particular is hungry for one. Of all of Oshie's international experience, he has just one bronze medal in the 2013 World Championship to show for it.

Oshie will likely do that in a more secondary role. For the entirety of Team USA's preliminary meetings before the World Cup actually begins, Oshie has played in a third-line role, a credit to his two-way play. He's skated primarily alongside Anaheim Ducks' center Ryan Kesler; in the matchup against Team Finland, Oshie and Kesler will have a new linemate in Montreal Canadiens scorer Max Pacioretty. Oshie has spent so much time with some of these guys in the past that the chemistry is slowly beginning to brew.

I'll be looking to get [Pacioretty] the puck and let him shoot.

"Yeah, a little bit," Oshie said on that building of chemistry. "There's been quite a bit of penalties in the last two games against Canada and not as much five-on-five to get that chemistry going. But I feel like we play somewhat of a similar game. I've played with Kes in the past, and we've got Patch there tonight, so I'll be looking to get him the puck and let him shoot."

That chippy play may have slowed that down (Oshie said intense play just has to be expected when the US take on Canada), but now USA takes on Finland, a more technical, two-way style team that will really move the puck and play with intelligence. Oshie knows what to expect.

"Good, fast game," Oshie said. "They got a lot of good players over there, players that we see during the year. It's going to be a good test for us, a good warm up to head into Toronto with."

But what excites Oshie is the fact that he will get to put on the Team USA sweater and play in front of a hometown crowd that he knows will cheer him on.

"It's going to be awesome," Oshie said. "Being on the road in Columbus there was great. The city was great, the fans were good, the locker room was awesome. But it's always nice to come back home. It's good to get out there in front of them."

Oshie plays for Team USA because he loves the game. He doesn't have to do it. He could spend more time relaxing, more time spent with his loving family.  But while the opportunity reduces his time off with an intense preseason schedule, reduces his recovery time and reduces the valuable time he can spend with that loving family, Oshie is proud for the opportunity every single time it comes around.

"It's tough, especially now that I got family and little ones, to cut the summers short because it is such a long season," Oshie said.

"(But it's) definitely worth it, throwing on the USA jersey, going out there with a bunch of Americans and playing our hearts out is fun."