Blues forward feels delivering more goals can elevate his game
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Within a span of three days, T.J. Oshie wowed and dazzled fans with highlight-reel type goals, the kind that can define a player. There have been plenty of ooh's and aah's already at Scottrade Center.
Oshie's patience around the net and pinpoint precision with the stick were impressive to say the least in exhibition games against Chicago and Dallas last week. The two goals reminded you of the goal he scored his rookie season against one of the best goalies in the league today, Roberto Luongo.
Oshie, entering his third season in the NHL, had done a lot since his arrival as the team's No. 1 draft choice (24th overall) in 2005. But in order to help the Blues continue a climb up towards Western Conference supremacy, the 23-year-old from Everett, Washington has one agenda in mind as the 2010-11 season unfolds: shoot the puck, and shoot it more often.
Oshie's overall game has certainly evolved, but his personal goal is to elevate his play each and every season. In his estimation, that means the offensive numbers must go up.
"Systems-wise, I'm there," said Oshie, who has 32 goals and 87 points in two seasons, which included 18 goals and 48 points a season ago. "But I think I need that little edge to put more points on the board and put the team in better situations, have that endurance to play. If it's possible, 19-20 minutes a night and still be good to go at the end. I want to play how I've been playing and put more points on the board."
Oshie is the Blues' version of the Energizer Bunny. He keeps going and going and going. Playing 19-20 minutes a game is not a problem, as the 15 games of 20 minutes or more per game played last season can attest -- including a stretch of five games in a row at 20-plus minutes.
"Obviously, he has a lot of energy and it spreads to everybody else," Blues center Patrik Berglund said of his linemate and friend. "He's a great linemate and a great teammate. He's helping you a lot out there. He's a good player. He fits in nicely to how I want to play hockey. He works hard and we're both players that kind of want to take the puck to the net right away.
"He's doing a big job. For being a small guy, he's very strong and he works hard. Hopefully, we can stay together and create some more offense."
Oshie's offense has increased from 14 goals and 39 points his rookie season to the 48 points a season ago. But Oshie admits there are more gears to be had. His 158 shots on goal a season ago were only eighth-best on the team.
Blues coach Davis Payne agrees and sees the unlimited potential in increasing the 'O' as well.
"He's a guy with very, very good one on one skills, very good puck protection and hockey sense," Payne said. "With that puck protection and hockey sense, he's able to get to areas to extend plays or create new plays for himself.
"Offensively, we'd like to see him be a little bit more of a shooter. We feel he's a guy that can create his own shot, he needs to go ahead and take it. There's certainly some plays he can make. He's a great small-area player, he's a great one on one player and has the ability to drive the net. As far as increasing offense, these are things we've talked to him about and feel he can expand upon."
There certainly are no issues with Oshie's two way game. He's relentless in both ends of the ice, which sometimes can take some steam out of his offensive prowess.
Even though Oshie would like to increase the goals and points, the little things are what really gets him jumpstarted.
"One thing for me is I get just as excited from making a big hit or battling down in the corner for 15 seconds, me against two guys and I come out with the puck," Oshie said. "I thrive just as much off of that as I do scoring a goal. That's basically what drives me out there to be a two-way player. The better you can play in both ends of the ice, the more minutes you're going to get. I tend to not focus on one part of my game. I try and incorporate everything in it."
If Oshie can continue to "incorporate everything in it," then the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup may very well be on the horizon and a parade down Market Street may come to fruition sooner than one might think.
"All of our smaller goals are going to lead to that," Oshie said. "We've got to reach each one before we get to the big one. (But) that's at the top of the pyramid."