Oshie brings energy to any line; Halak focused

News-DemocratFebruary 3, 2014 

— While he hasn't been skating with the St. Louis Blues' familiar top line with old pals David Backes and Alexander Steen, T.J. Oshie's is still find ways to contribute.

Coach Ken Hitchcock continues shifting line combinations because of injuries or trying to find the right fit. Oshie's latest home is with Patrik Berglund and either Magnus Paajarvi or Brenden Morrow on left wing.

"I figured he was going to break us up eventually," said Oshie, who has 12 goals and ranks 16th in the NHL with 31 assists. "I like playing with Bergie, it's been fun playing with Mags (Paajarvi). I'm looking forward to playing with Mo (Morrow) if that's what the lines are. My game doesn't change very much even though my linemates change.

"It's still gettting pucks in and pushing hard and being good at both ends of the rink."

Oshie's relentless energy adds a spark to any line.

"When he's playing really well, his conscience allows the line to play the right way," Hitchcock said. "His competitiveness is one thing, his enthusiasm is another, but just his energy all over the ice draws people into him.

"He's a guy that can make you feel real comfortable right away."

Oshie thrives on making things happen.

"I try to bring energy every night and sometimes if guys feed off of that, that's great," he said.

No need to rush the Olympics

Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak will play for his native Slovakia at the Winter Olympics, but right now he's more concerned with trying to nail down three wins this week.

He'll be the starter Tuesday when the Blues play host to Ottawa.

"We've got three more games at home and we would like to get all the points before the break," he said. "One game at a time, that's the mindset."

Is it tough to keep from looking ahead to the global hockey at the Olympics while playing in the NHL? Not for Halak.

"Guys are going to the Olympics from other teams and I'm sure the guys that aren't going to the Olympics will enjoy the break (with) vacations, go see their families," he said.

Halak's intense offseason conditioning left him in the best shape of his career. He missed time earlier because of a flu-like illness, but likes the way his game has progressed.

"It's been good so far," said Halak, 23-8-3 with four shutouts and a 2.22 goals-against average. "Obviously I've had some games I'd like to play better in, but that's part of the season and part of hockey. You go through ups and downs.

"I feel really good. I was able to come back (from the illness) and I'm still working on my conditioning to get a little better. Before the Olympics I'm hopefully be where I was before."

Jaskin promoted

Rookie forward Dmitrij Jaskin was back with the Blues again Monday after being recalled from the minors because of an injury to Vladimir Sobotka.

The 20-year-old Jaskin was third among Chicago Wolves scorers with 13 goals and 25 points in 32 games. He has one goal in six games with the Blues this season.

"This is a great opportunity," said Hitchcock, who expects to play Jaskin this week. "I think every second that Jaskin can play up here or stay up here --every time he can practice with us, every chance he gets to play -- he's doing nothing but enhancing his career.

"He's earned the right to be here. He's been really strong down there and we have no issue in playing him in any situation here at all."

Hitch on the Super Bowl

How did Hitchcock analyze Seattle's blowout win over Denver in the Super Bowl?

"Denver was in trouble when Peyton (Manning) got happy feet. It's not a good sign," Hitchcock said. "Everybody talks about defense winning championships (but) I thought it was more intriguing what the coach said after.

"He said they'd been moving forward for four years, so his feeling was it took four years to built to what they had, not one year. Their goal was to win in five (years) and they won in four and they kept moving the process forward."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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