T.J. Oshie became a household name in America on Saturday morning (including one house in particular) with his performance in Team USA's 3-2 shootout win over the Russians.
Despite his refusal to be labelled a hero, that's exactly what Oshie was (since a hero is literally defined as the principal character in a story, and Oshie became precisely that when Team USA decided to go to him again and again once the game reached the shootout). Oshie scored four times on six shots, propelling the US to a victory, and causing minor quakes in gathering spots all over the country.
After the game, we learned that Oshie's shootout prowess played a major role in his selection to Team USA, where international hockey rules allow players to be used repeatedly (perhaps in an effort to rob the Marek Maliks of the world of their moment).
It was a smart choice. Oshie isn't known for highlight-reel shootout moves, particularly, like Team USA teammate Patrick Kane, for instance, but while he doesn't always make Sportscenter, he usually makes good. He's near automatic, at 25-for-46 in his pro career.
How does he do it? He's incredible at adapting to what goaltenders give him, for one thing. Watching a number of Oshie's shootout moves back-to-back, you'll notice that he approaches the goal pretty much the same way every time: carefully, slowly, and with his head up. After that, his decisions are based on the goalie. You can watch all of his shootout attempts versus Russia here. But we're going to go a little further back.
He's been doing basically the same thing since day one. Here's his first-ever NHL shootout attempt, from a 2009 game versus the Chicago Blackhawks:
Three years later, versus the same team, it's a very similar move. Watch it in slow-motion courtesy a fan behind the Chicago net. You'll notice the only difference is that Corey Crawford doesn't bite quite as hard, and manages to keep his left pad in position to make a save along the ice. So Oshie roofs it. His control is incredible:
His improvisation skills may be second to none. The best example comes versus Roberto Luongo, who expected Oshie to deke, and got into a nice wide stance in preparation to stick with the winger no matter what. Oshie simply went five-hole before his first juke:
Speaking of Luongo, after watching Sergei Bobrovsky get beaten the same way not once but twice, the Canuck netminder finally found closure on Saturday:
I don't feel so bad anymore....... pic.twitter.com/lsFF57sA4V
— Strombone (@strombone1) February 15, 2014
If Canada finds themselves in an elimination round shootout with the Americans, we'd still recommend deploying Carey Price.
Oshie's Team USA teammate Jonathan Quick knows the winger's moves all too well. Not that it's helped him make stops. Back in 2012, Oshie deked Quick right out of his shorts:
Quick was likely thinking of that when he faced Oshie just last month on a penalty shot, too. But so was Oshie, who took advantage of Quick's expectation of a deke by going five-hole, much like he did with Luongo:
Oshie joked after the win over Russia that he was running out of moves, but that's not quite true. He used the same move a few times, and would have continued to go back to the well based on Bobrovsky's adjustments.
Here's Oshie from just a week ago, with a move you'll likely find familiar by now. His victim: Al Montoya of the Winnipeg Jets.
One assumes USA Hockey was pretty confident in their selection after that. And they were even moreso as Oshie's teammates mobbed him after defeating Russia.
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