Blues get back on ice after Olympic break;
happy but not surprised at shootout heroics USA player
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- As a nation joined in unison to watch the amazing feat of T.J. Oshie virtually put an entire country on his shoulders with the outcome in balance, his fellow Blues teammates were part of a collective group not surprised.
Oshie's 4 for 6 performance that captivated not only the United States but perhaps the entire hockey world lifted Team USA to that 3-2 shootout victory against host Russia, didn't surprise his NHL teammates here in St. Louis after the non-Olympic Blues reconvened Wednesday to begin preparation for the final stretch of the season.
|(St. Louis Blues)|
T.J. Oshie points towards USA teammate Jonathan Quick after scoring
the deciding shootout goal to beat Russia this past Saturday.
"There's no surprise for us, but it's nice that he's getting the worldwide recognition now," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said of Oshie. "He became a top celebrity overnight. He's probably going to have the paparazzi follow him around. You turn on any news, you turn on the Today Show, he's plastered all over, but it's a feel-good story that everybody loves to rally around. That's what the Olympics is all about.
"Osh was amazing. He made us all proud and he's such a great kid, a great competitor and a huge part of our team. For him to bring that enthusiasm to the U.S. team and have that success is fun to watch."
Added veteran Brenden Morrow: "We get to see him all the time, so we know how successful he is at that aspect of the game. It's just good to see good guys like that get some reward and some limelight, recognition and at a big stage like that. Being a friend and a teammate, it's good to see good things happen to good people.
"To be shocked? No, I wasn't. But to go four out of six is pretty special."
Some of Oshie's teammates were able to watch live, but the 6:30 a.m. start time this past Saturday was an early rise for most.
"I was actually sleeping," said winger Magnus Paajarvi. "I woke up and I saw the tweets and I went back and I watched the whole game. It was a sick game. I really enjoyed it.
"I didn't think Osh was going to go that many times because they've got (Patrick) Kane and they've got all these guys that can score, especially when he missed the second. But it was a great coaching move to put him back. I thought Oshie had him all six times even though he missed two of them. We've seen all the moves. He's sick ... he's sick."
Oshie's teammates marveled at his feat, and then there's Ryan Reaves, who joked: "I would have been 6 for 6. Come on, you know that. Have you seen my stats? I've had two goals in the last three years."
"I couldn't even fathom having to do that six times and scoring four out of the six," Reaves added. "It's unreal. Every move was just unbelievable. To be put on the spot like that in the Olympics and coming through for your country was something to watch.
"The best part that I liked about it was every time he was on the ice, he was smiling. It didn't look like he was nervous or there was any pressure on him. It looked like he was going out and having fun. That's Timmy when he goes out and plays hockey every time."
Combined with Oshie's 7 for 10 success rate in NHL games this season, he's 11 for 16 in shootout attempts on the year, including the Olympic games. In the NHL for his career, Oshie is a sparking 25 for 46 (54.3 percent). Only Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders (54.5 percent) has a better percentage among active players.
|(St. Louis Blues)|
USA's T.J. Oshie (74) waits for the final shootout attempt with
Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in goal.
I was so excited. I was actually working out in the morning. I got done with my workout and I checked my phone and I've got all these texts," defenseman Ian Cole said. "... I didn't see the third (period) and the shootout, but I just got done and my phone was just blowing up. I had to get back to a DVR quick.
"It was so cool because there isn't a more deserving guy. We're not surprised because we see it every single day. That's what I was trying to get at, what I was tweeting about. Everyone in this locker room knows how good he is. He's an absolute world-class player and now I think everyone else kind of knows that, which is really cool to see because he's so deserving of it."
Could Cole duplicate Oshie's feat?
"Yeah I could ... in my dreams," Cole joked.
* NOTES -- Minus their nine Olympians, who are still in Sochi, Russia or in the case of Jaroslav Halak and Vladimir Tarasenko, they are en route back to St. Louis, the Blues were back in action. They resume the season six days from today (Feb. 26) in Vancouver, which begins a stretch of six of seven games away from home.
"What we saw today was sort of the focus and attention to detail and the good habits that have been a good part of our success weren't quite fully on display there today," said associate coach Brad Shaw, who along with assistant coaches Gary Agnew and Ray Bennett are running practices until Ken Hitchcock completes his duties with the Canadian Olympic squad. "It'll be a bit of a push. It's a little bit of a substitute teacher sort of setup here as well. We're going to have to ask for it a little bit more often than you would if Hitch was around, but that's fine. We know what we're getting into. It's our job to get these guys ready to go so that when we start playing again for real, we're at the same level or a little bit better.
"Everything has to get sort of truncated a little bit, but it feels a little bit like camp. It was a pretty loose day in the locker room. We come back earlier again (Thursday), so a pretty short turnaround. I think guys will be a little more sore tomorrow. The Saturday day off I think will really come in handy and then Sunday, hopefully our pace and our execution is a little closer to where we'd like it."
As for the availability of both Halak and Tarasenko, whose countries respectively (Slovakia and Russia) were eliminated from the tournament, they'll be back with their Blues teammates soon.
"Hopefully they'll be back for Sunday's skate," Shaw said. "They're supposed to be back I think on tomorrow's flight, which gives them Friday and Saturday as sort of rest days and recuperate and refocus. We'll probably see the same sort of thing the first day back. The sooner the better so we can get back to the little bit higher execution level."
Both Vladimir Sobotka (knee) and Jordan Leopold (lower body) were not on the ice as expected. Both are still recovering from injuries. There was no new update on their conditions as of Wednesday afternoon.