Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Six more Blues named to Olympics, making it 10

Steen, Berglund, Halak, Tarasenko, Bouwmeester, Pietrangelo 
will join Backes, Oshie, Shattenkirk, Sobotka in Sochi, Russia in February

The Blues will have a variety of Olympic flavors when the 2014 Sochi Olympics open in February.

Already knowing three representatives (David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk) from the United States and another (Vladimir Sobotka) when the Czech Republic unveiled their squad on Monday, the Blues gained six more entries when Canada, Sweden, Russia and Slovakia all named their squads that have Blues players representing.

Sweden and Slovakia were the first to disclose that Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund would represent Sweden, then Slovakia named Jaroslav Halak as part of their 25-man roster. Russia followed by naming Vladimir Tarasenko and then Canada announcement came with the naming of defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo.

The Blues' 10 representatives matches that of the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings as teams that have the most NHL players.

The 29-year-old Steen, currently on injured reserve with a concussion, will be a first time Olympian and fourth time member of the Swedish National Team (2003 and 2004 World Juniors as well as the 2007 World Championships). Steen leads the Blues in goals (24) and points (38).

Berglund, 25, will represent Sweden for the fifth time but is a first time Olympian as well. He represented Sweden at the 2007 and 2008 World Juniors and 2009 and 2011 World Championships. Berglund has 17 points in 38 games this season.

Halak, 28, will represent Slovakia for the ninth time overall and second time in the Olympics. He was on Slovakia's Olympic team in 2010. He also represented the Slovaks at the 2002 and 2003 U-18 World Juniors, 2004 and 2005 World Juniors and 2007, 2009 and 2011 World Championships. Halak is 17-6-3 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .907 save percentage this season.

Tarasenko, 22, will also be making his Olympic debut but fourth time representing Russia on the international level. He appeared at the 2009, 2010 and 2011 World Junior team. Tarasenko was the captain of the 2011 team. In his second NHL season, Tarasenko has 13 goals and 24 points in 41 games. 

Bouwmeester, 30, will be representing Canada for the 10th time, including second Olympics (2006). Bouwmeester has played on four World Championships (2003, 2004, 2008 and 2012), one World Cup (2005) and three World Juniors (2000, 2001 and 2002). Bouwmeester has 27 points (24 assists) this season in 41 games and his plus-21 rating is tied for third.

Pietrangelo, 23, will be a first time Olympian and fourth time member of Canada. He's previously appeared at the 2009 and 2010 World Juniors as well as 2011 World Championships. Pietrangelo has 28 points (23 assists) and has a plus-15 rating.

Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo will join coach Ken Hitchcock and Doug Armstrong. Hitchcock will be an assistant to Detroit's Mike Babcock and Armstrong is part of the management team.

Sobotka, 26, is also a first time Olympian for the Czech Republic and third time international representative. He represented his country at the 2006 and 2007 World Juniors. He has 20 points in 35 games.

The most notable omission for the Blues is defenseman Roman Polak, who was left off the Czech Republic squad after representing them at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. 

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