Frozen Mail - 12/22/09
Two great questions/comments today from Chris who wrote:
"As a former minor league equipment mgr. I have to wonder if a problem in the locker room is causing the Blues troubles. Just a thought. I've been told the team is close knit though.
Oshie has always played hard but tonight I really think he's playing with Team USA in mind. Could you tell us your thoughts on his chances of making the team?"
You can submit your comments & questions either in the comments or to my
. Thanks Chris for your message.
Problems in the Locker Room
The Blues have been Consistently Inconsistent this season and the blame blanket is large enough to cover just about everyone and everything. Chris asks if I think there could be some issues in the locker room that might have caused the poor play. In my opinion, both yes and no. I don't think it is the root or even a major contributor to what has plagued the Blues this season, but I certainly feel it could have played a part.
Realistically, there likely are very few, if any, locker rooms that don't have some sort of divide in them and I bet the Blues aren't any different. I don't really see it as being a split or a divide but perhaps more a lack of focus. This is a very young team. I follow the Blues as much as anyone and that fact even escapes my own mind sometimes. In case you have forgotten, Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie and Erik Johnson are only in their second year at the NHL level. David Perron is in his third. Other key pieces of this roster have a bit more experience but are still very young in the grand scheme of things. David Backes is 25 while Roman Polak is 23. I blame a lot of this year's troubles on inexperience and chalk it up as a growing phase, amongst other things. The youth/inexperience could cause to some trouble behind the scenes, but mostly everything I have heard is to the contrary and that these guys get along extremely well, from living together to playing video games and etc.
Keep in mind that the Blues locker room is composed of 20+ guys - there's bound to be a difference of opinion at some point. Could it spill over into a game? Sure, but I think it's more through a lack of focus as compared to a vendetta or grudge or something along those lines.
The veteran presence has been a positive one, as Keith Tkachuk has really become the leader of this team alongside Barret Jackman. These two, with Daryl Sydor, have helped more off the ice with the young talent than they have contributed on the score sheet. Some may think the veterans and youngsters might not get along, but this doesn't appear to be the case - afterall, Tkachuk really is just one big kid himself.
As for now I think the locker room is not a concern for any Blues fan and the recent play indicates that. When GM Larry Pleau stepped in and told everyone that there would be changes unless things shaped up, the team came out with a 3-1 victory over Vancouver and a spanking of Edmonton last night. I think that indicates the desire to keep the group together, and that maybe these guys didn't realize their friend could be out the door if they didn't give that extra effort.
T.J. Oshie & Team USA
There's been a lot of talk whether or not Oshie will crack the USA roster. The USA roster will be announced during the Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 1st, so we don't have too long to wait to find out just who made the cut and who didn't. If this article from usahockey.com is an indication of anything, Oshie's chances look pretty good.The article is a good read, even though they incorrectly state Oshie has a Twitter account which in fact he does not - as confirmed by Oshie himself.
I think it all comes down to what tactic Team USA is looking to use. If they look to their neighbors to the north and want to match talent for talent (which they obviously can't) Oshie may miss the cut. However, if USA wants a two-way forward who while possessing the talent to pull off the incredible, can also be a force on the boards and everywhere else on the ice. Oshie is a hard worker who can change the shape of a game all while being held out of the box score. He knows how to use his body and makes smart plays both in his own zone and on the attack. Hopefully Team USA recognizes this and selects his name January 1st.
Overall, I'd say his chances are pretty good. Team USA appears to want to go the "hard work" route and Oshie certainly fits that image.
Thanks for the questions/comments Chris.
Remember, anyone can sound off in the comments (no registration or anything needed) or through e-mail.
Every now and then I'll dive into the ol' e-mail account and discuss different readers' questions and comments. Today seems like a good day to do so following the Blues mammoth 7-2 victory over Edmonton last night. In this addition we discuss whether problems in the locker room could be blamed on the Blues inconsistent and poor play as well as the likelihood T.J. Oshie can crack the team USA roster.