Blues land 3 on Team USA Olympic hockey team

News-DemocratJanuary 1, 2014 

There will be a definite St. Louis Blues flavor at the Winter Olympics in Russia after Blues captain David Backes, winger T.J Oshie and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk all made the Team USA final roster announced Wednesday.

The Americans pushed hard for the gold medal in 2010, but lost to Canada on Sidney Crosby's overtime goal in Vancouver.

The 29-year-old Backes has 16 goals and 30 points in 35 games, enjoying one of the best starts to a season in his career.

He had a goal and three points in six games while helping Team USA to a silver-medal performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The Minneapolis native also has represented the U.S. at three world championships and one world junior championship.

This will be the first Olympic appearances for Shattenkirk and Oshie.

"I am extremely honored to be a part of this team and represent this great country in Sochi," Shattenkirk said on his Twitter account. "This is a dream come true."

Oshie was just as excited.

"Couldn't be more proud and excited to wear the red, white and blue sweater in Sochi," Oshie said on Twitter. "What an honor. Thanks to my family, friends, coaches and teammates that have gotten me to where I'm at in my career. Couldn't have made this team without you."

Shattenkirk has six goals and 28 points in 38 games and will be making his first Olympic appearance for Team USA. A former member of the U.S. National Team Development Program, the New York native has played for Team USA in the world junior championships and the world championships.

He has a career-high three game-winning goals this season.

Oshie, 27, played for Team USA at the 2006 world junior championships and the 2009, 2010 and 2013 world championships.

Oshie has six goals and 33 points in 39 games, ranking ninth in the NHL with 27 assists.

The Blues will take a three-game winning streak into their home game Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings, a team they lost to 3-2 on Dec. 2.

The Team Canada Olympic roster will be announced Jan. 7. Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong is Canada's assistant GM and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will serve as an assistant coach.

Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester are among the favorites to make the Canadian team.

Other Blues expected to have a shot at making the Olympic teams for their home countries include injured forward Alexander Steen and center Patrik Berglund (Sweden), defenseman Roman Polak and forward Vladimir Sobotka (Czech Republic), goalie Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia) and possibly winger Vladimir Tarasenko (Russia).

* Blues winger Jaden Schwartz has a goal in six straight games after netting another one and an assist Tuesday in the 2-1 victory at Minnesota. Schwartz's hot streak includes 20 points in his last 18 games and he has 14 goals and 30 points this season.

The last Blues player to score a goal in at least seven straight games was Mike Sillinger in 2006.

* The Blues' 27-7-5 record (.756) is the second best in franchise history through Dec. 31, trailing only the 2000-01 record of 25-5-4 (.794).

* Backes was at the morning skate Tuesday, but was held out of the lineup with an upper body injury and missed the 2-1 victory over Minnesota.

He was injured Saturday in the Blues' 6-5 shootout win over the Blackhawks.

Blues winger Chris Stewart left the game Tuesday after being hit in the face on a first-period shot by Minnesota's Jason Pominville.

The Blues are also without Steen (concussion), Ryan Reaves, Jordan Leopold and Polak. Forward Dmitrij Jaskin was reassigned to minor-league Chicago on Wednesday.

"Our lineup is what it is right now and we've just got to find a way," Hitchcock told the Associated Press. "Nobody is feeling sorry for us. We've got to find ways to get points, and this is good."

* The Blues are 13-0-1 against the Central Division and 22-1-3 when scoring first this season. They also are 5-0-2 in their last seven road games.

* Blues goalie Brian Elliott, expected to start Thursday against the Kings, improved to 10-1-2 with a win against the Wild. Elliott was 6-0-1 in December with a 1.67 goals-against average.

Scouting the Kings

The Kings have lost four straight, their longest losing streak under coach Darryl Sutter. The last three have been by one goal, including a 3-2 loss Tuesday at Dallas.

Their top scorers are Anze Kopitar (13 goals, 34 points), Mike Richards (six goals, 28 points), Justin Williams (13 goals, 25 points) and Jeff Carter (13 goals, 24 points).

Martin Jones (8-2, 1.28 goals-against, three shutouts) and Ben Scrivens (7-5-4, 1.84 goals-against, three shutouts) have been handling goaltending duties in the absence of injured star Jonathan Quick.

Quick has been out with a groin strain since Nov. 12, but is expected to return in early January. On Wednesday, Quick was named as one of three goalies for Team USA.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or on Twitter @NormSanders

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