The trouble with sending nine players to the Olympics—like the St. Louis Blues did—is that most of those players are going to come home empty-handed. For T.J. Oshie, David Backes and Kevin Shattenkirk, the United States didn’t just come up short in their bronze medal game against Finland—they rolled over and took an outright butt kicking.
There’s no way to make it pretty. There’s no way to ice the swelling or cure the sting. The Americans didn’t bother to show up to play against Finland, and were stomped by a 5-0 final. That’s not a loss. That’s an embarrassment.
Against a Finnish team that was missing three top players in Mikko Koivu, Valtteri Filppula and Aleksander Barkov, the United States played an absolute stinker. Unfortunately for Blues fans, Backes, Oshie and Shattenkirk were all instrumental in the defeat. The plane ride back from Sochi is a long one, and when that American trio touches down in St. Louis, they’re going to be given a very arduous task:
Forget all about the Winter Olympics.
Forget about the gold medal you thought you could win and forget about the horrendous and embarrassing effort against Finland. With less than a quarter of the NHL regular season to go, how Backes, Oshie and Shattenkirk bounce back will be imperative for the Blues if they want to continue on their current track.
Heading into the Olympic break, St. Louis overtook the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Central Division. That mission was accomplished, and it seemed like the team had a lot of positive momentum moving forward. That will be all by squashed by the time these guys get back to town.
They’re professionals, and part of their job description is being able to get the dirt off their shoulders pretty quickly. The loss against Finland is the kind of loss that can haunt men and players for the rest of their lives though. Is it reasonable to expect them to step out onto the ice without seeing some sort of letdown in play?
This is why they pay Ken Hitchcock the big bucks. It’s on him to sit these guys down one by one and speak with them. St. Louis was made proud when Olympic rosters were announced, but the Blues players haven’t performed very well since the preliminary round ended.
Is that something that could negatively impact the rest of the regular season and the playoff run for the Blues? Stay tuned, sports fans. This is going to be a wild finish.
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