The Team USA rollercoaster ride has finally ended. After seeing expectations and attention for the team grow to insane levels after T.J. Oshie's incredible shootout performance, the team crashed out of the Olympics with two disappointing defeats. The Americans first were contained by Canada in a game which was more lopsided than the 1-0 score indicates and then they were taken behind the wood shed by Finland by a score of 5-0.
David Backes, Kevin Shattenkirk and Oshie return home without a medal. While they join other Blues who went to Sochi and returned with nothing (Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaroslav Halak), the USA's failure to bring home a medal is frustrating and a blow to U.S. hockey.
Are the Blues to blame? Hardly. Backes, Oshie and Shattenkirk were three of the best members of the team.
We all know what Oshie contributed for the United States (ironically, T.J. Sochi shirts arrived in home as the U.S. was dispatched by Canada), but what about Backes and Shattenkirk? All in all, the trio played well.
Backes was arguably the best man on the ice against the Czech Republic. He played a physical game (shocking) and was involved with the offense. Shattenkirk was solid, but wasn't spectacular. It may be a harsh scale, but he was the least impressive of the three Blues on Team USA. One may have expected to see Shattenkirk used on the power-play a bit more frequently, but he still chipped in three assists in six games.
These three Blues were outstanding representatives of their team. At times (especially in Oshie's case) they stole the show. While you could make some really strong arguments in terms of player selection, no one is debating Backes, Oshie and Shattenkirk's merit and contributions to the team.
It's disappointing these three return with nothing, but let's be thankful they're returning healthy and (hopefully) motivated to put their previous disappointments behind them.