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Why the U.S. kept sending Oshie out on the shootout

Feb 15, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men AP

After seeing the U.S. send T.J. Oshie out for a dizzying six shootout attempts in a 3-2 win against Russia on Saturday, many people probably asked: “Why?”

The 27-year-old has never scored more than 19 goals in his young career and is far, far down the list of the team’s most recognizable players.

To some, it was flabbergasting that U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma kept sending Oshie out while high-scoring forwards Phil Kessel, Zach Parise and Patrick Kane watched from the bench. Especially since Russia rolled out stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk in the same situation.

VIDEO: Watch the entire shootout

But it worked, as Oshie nailed four of six, including the deciding tally.

If you want a little more background on Bylsma’s decision-making process, here’s a quick look at how Oshie has fared in shootouts at the NHL level:

  • Oshie is currently tied with Logan Couture and Jonathan Toews for the NHL lead in shootout goals with seven. While those players have connected on a bit more than 50 percent of their attempts, Oshie’s success rate is 70 percent this season.
  • He didn’t receive a ton of chances in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but he connected on two of his three attempts.
  • Since coming into the league in 2008-09, Oshie has 25 shootout goals.

Does that mean he deserved every chance? That’s debatable … but it’s clear that there was plenty of logic behind what seemed to some like a strange strategy.

VIDEO: Al Michaels, Doc Emrick discuss game’s historical impact

Part of the plan

ESPN’s behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. team’s construction suggests Oshie was on the bubble for a final roster spot alongside the likes of Brandon Saad and Bobby Ryan. His shootout prowess may very well have been the tie-breaker, at least to U.S. GM David Poile.

“Oshie’s got that shootout move,” Poile said.

Oshie’s post-game reaction seems fitting, then; he told NBC’s Pierre McGuire that he was “running out of moves” as his attempts kept piling up.

As this great panoramic shot from AP reveals, his teammates seemed OK with him taking shootout shot after shot:

source: AP

Credit: AP

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about Oshie’s shootout strategy…

  1. patthehockeyfan - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    “Does that mean he deserved every chance?”

    Uh, yes!

  2. r8rbhawk - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Those of us on PHT know Oshie is a quality player. Well, thanks to his performance, he just made himself a household name for the casual hockey fan.

  3. btlpper68 - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    We’ll that’s not the time to please star players you go with WHats working, if John Scott keeps scoring you stick out John Scott

  4. pirovash88 - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    As a Kings fan, putting the rivalry aside, thank god for TJ Oshie.

    • jhaegs - Feb 15, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      As a Blues fan, the respect is returned for Quick’s performance.

  5. bruinspaw - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Considering you only have 3 players to choose from with the shootout, Oshie was the only one who scored so why not keep going back to him.

    • westinpat - Feb 15, 2014 at 5:54 PM

      I thought you pick your first three, but round four through whatever you can pick whoever you want, multiple rounds if you wish.

  6. pastabelly - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    As a hockey fan, I still hate shootouts.

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      You prefer ties? Not me.

  7. slaugin - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    @bruinspaw… After the first 3 guys shoot you can chose anyone not just the first 3 that went

  8. hardkor07mn - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    @slaugin- that’s incorrect. In the Olympics you pick your first 3 shooters and then you pick from those 3 if more rounds are needed. You only get 3 guys no matter what.

    • shortsxit34 - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      slaugin is right. You can use *any* players as many times as you want. It doesn’t have to be one of the original 3.

  9. prd797 - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Saw people calling him TJ Sochi. It’s a quaint nickname, but maybe a bit early for that.

    That said, this shootout was an obviously strong showing on his part, and, Hawks-Blues rivalry aside, I wish him well in other important games in the tournament.

  10. rainyday56 - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Guess Crosby will have to score that golden goal again …

    • avscup - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      Cindy Crybaby? Not likely.

      • infieldhit - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        I see what you did there.

  11. Eric Harms - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Just as important as his previous shootout goals/record were the circumstances. You have a guy who gets two past a goalie in a shootout. That gets into the head of the goalie. Especially when he sees that guy skating toward him for the third/fourth/fifth time!

  12. site to help others - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    I understand that’s the Olympic format but I didn’t like it (letting the same guy go after the first three attempts); it’s a team sport and it’s more exciting when more players get involved methinks.

  13. jhaegs - Feb 15, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    #HEROshie

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