Saturday, July 26, 2014
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A stupid rule just made T.J. Oshie the greatest American hero

No matter what happens from here, what T.J. Oshie did while scoring four shootout goals in a 3-2 victory over Team Russia Saturday will forever earn him a spot in Olympic legend.

A stupid rule just made T.J. Oshie the greatest American hero

T.J. Oshie shoots on a shootout against former Flyer Sergei Bobrovski during Team USA’s 3-2 victory over Team Russia Saturday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
T.J. Oshie shoots on a shootout against former Flyer Sergei Bobrovski during Team USA’s 3-2 victory over Team Russia Saturday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The often incoherent, grammatically challenged ramblings of a man who has watched too much sports, listened to too much music and devoured too many club sandwiches.

T.J. Oshie put on an Olympic show for the ages.

No matter what happens from here, what Oshie did while scoring four shootout goals in a 3-2 victory over Team Russia Saturday will forever earn him a spot in Olympic legend.

Under the most severe pressure, he responded time and again … and again … and again. The end result is America has a new Olympic hero. A player who performed his best when the stage was the biggest, the spotlight the brightest, and the stakes the highest.

T.J. Oshie gets the highest Olympic marks, but if you are fan of the game of hockey as opposed to just a fan of Team USA, the international rules for shootouts are a stupid way to end a hockey game. And that feeling would have been even more pronounced if Russia had won with four goals by Pavel Datsyuk.

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It is impossible not to marvel at what Oshie did for the Americans. And as a testament to his upbringing in a team culture, when he scored the game-winning goal, he turned and pointed to USA goalie Jonathan Quick, who did his part in the shootout, and made some quick decisions during the game to get a victory.

Full marks to Oshie, who is so much a hockey player that even in this most individual of moments, he turned and gave credit to a teammate. No prolonged individual dance for Oshie, instead an attempt to spread out the credit to a teammate.

It was beautiful.

No matter how it was done, Oshie responded as a Big Stage star. What he did was put on an historic individual performance. He nailed his final landing in gymnastics, broke a record in the downhill, and knocked out an opponent in the final second — all rolled into one performance.

Through regulation and overtime, it was a wonderful, thrilling game. It was also a brilliant game through the first three shooters in the shootout. And then came the Olympic and international rule that allows a team to use the same shooter over and over again.

As a result, T.J. Oshie had six shots during the shootout, scored on four and won the game when he beat Sergei Bobrovsky on the eighth shot on goal during the shootout.

Not that it wasn’t fair, because the Russians relied on Ilya Kovalchuk and Datsyuk. It was certainly fair and level – it just turned into theater of the absurd.

The opinion from this seat in the house has always been that a shootout is an unfair way to end a hockey game and the NHL is likely to abandon its use in the not too distant future. No doubt it adds some immediacy to a game and is a sure way to end a tie.

It also has a long tradition in international and Olympic hockey, with the most historic shootout goal being scored by Sweden’s Peter Forsberg, a goal that made him a national icon and earned him a place on a postage stamp.

But it’s difficult to give a stamp of approval on the rules that led to what happened in Sochi Saturday where a great hockey game was ended by a repeated one-on-one show in a team sport. All I know for sure after that game is that T.J. Oshie is the best breakaway player in the world and maybe he’s got the biggest pair of hockey pucks in the entire sporting world.

T.J. Oshie put on perhaps the greatest individual performances in the history of the sport, but the rule that allowed it to happen is stupid.

Nuf Ced

Al Morganti is a member of the WIP Morning Show (94.1 FM) weekday mornings from 5:30 til 10 and a hockey analyst for Comcast SportsNet. His twitter handle is @nufced.

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About this blog
Al Morganti is a contributor at Philly.com and writes about sports and entertainment. Reach Al at nufced04@gmail.com.

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