When T.J. Oshie went to bed on Saturday night in Russia, he did so after taking six shootout attempts in an Olympic hockey game, scoring on four of those, carrying the American men’s hockey team to victory over the host country, being mentioned in a tweet by The White House, and having slain and eaten a unicorn raw. (Can’t confirm last part, just rumors so far. David Booth will be jealous if it’s true.)
It was a good day.
As you likely know, after three attempts in the shootout you can send whoever you want in international play, and the Americans had planned before the tournament started to ride Oshie if they found themselves in that situation, mostly because he’s nails in the shootout (unlike that slug Patrick Kane). The craziest thing about Oshie’s six shootout attempts: his two best moves were the ones he didn’t score on (one great save, one missed net).
Anyway, I’m a bit familiar with Oshie from playing him in the WCHA when he was at North Dakota. He was four years younger than me and six times better, so naturally I hate him. (Not really.)
If you’re not familiar with him, I thought I’d help him out. His Twitter following grew like the Grinch’s heart at the end of that movie, so apparently people are interested in him.
He has great mitts
The U.S. didn’t pick Oshie to go in the shootout on a whim, then see him score and decide to ride him. He’s currently second among active NHLers in shootout percentage (among guys who’ve taken at least 20 attempts). He’s 25 for 46, and he’s potted seven of 10 this season. You know how when someone is suuuper good at something it looks annoyingly easy? That’s Oshie in the shootout.
He hits like a truck, and he’s a clean player
He’s an absolute refrigerator of a guy, but he doesn’t look like it. He’s just got the density of a neutron star or something. He’s the master of the reverse hit too – you think you’re going to plow him, or that he’s only partially aware of you coming to hit him, and all the sudden your tailbone hurts and you’re staring at the rafters.
I think my favorite hit of his might be this one on Dustin Penner.
Oshie is 5’11″, 189.
No forward on the St. Louis Blues has more powerplay time than Oshie. No forward on the Blues has more penalty kill time that Oshie. He’s a 50-65 point player who plays physical without taking penalties (he averages about one penalty minute for every two games he plays, meaning he takes a minor roughly every four games. He’s never been suspended either). He wins puck battles and drives play against tough competition. He’d be The Ultimate Canadian Hockey Player, if he weren’t American. We’d love him up here.
He’s not afraid of a good time
Hey, see the last two sentences of the previous section? This might put him over the top.
Oshie developed a bit of a reputation in college as a goer’, if I could use the world’s most Canadian drinking word. He’s a goer’. And sometimes, it gets him in some trouble. (Probably some NSFW language, I don’t know because I can’t watch it all because it makes me cringe).
The Americans were forced to make some really tough decisions further down their roster, and those included leaving off the like of Bobby Ryan and Kyle Okposo so they could take Oshie. He may not have the pure boxcars of a guy like Ryan, but it’s tough not to take a guy who can play on any line like he can. Okposo can too, so it might have actually been Oshie’s shootout prowess that got him on the squad. After all, we did hear that USA GM said “Oshie’s got that shootout move” when they were determining the roster.
Anyway, Oshie is blowing up after his performance today (I think he has like 80,000 new Twitter followers or something, 136,000 mentions of his name today alone). “Oshie Own Sochi,” and all that. If the world didn’t know his name yesterday, they certainly do today.