Family feud: Blues well represented in Olympic hockey semifinals

News-DemocratFebruary 20, 2014 

With five of their teammates on the ice Friday when Team USA takes on Canada in the Winter Olympics hockey semifinals, it's a win-win situation for the St. Louis Blues.

"It could go either way, both teams are very talented," said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, a native of British Columbia in Canada. "You look at the list of guys that have been left off of both teams. ... You could have another all-star team with those guys. Whatever the outcome is Friday, it's not going to be a surprise."

The U.S. roster includes Blues forward David Backes and T.J. Oshie and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, while Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester are playing in the same pairing with Canada.

The game begins at 11 a.m. Friday (NBC Sports Network).

The Americans have waited four years to get a rematch against their neighbors to the north. Canada won the 2010 gold medal in Vancouver, British Columbia with an overtime victory over the U.S. on a goal by Sidney Crosby.

The U.S. hasn't won an Olympic gold medal in hockey since the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team stepped into history.

While Canada has struggled in victories over Latvia (2-1) and Finland (2-1 in overtime), Team USA has smashed its opponents by the lopsided score of 20-6 led by Phil Kessel's five goals.

However, Canada's defense and goaltending have been strong while allowing only three goals in four games.

Two more Blues are still hunting for a gold medal, with Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund playing well as two of Sweden's top forwards. Sweden will take on rival Finland in the other semifinal on Friday (6 a.m., NBC Sports Network).

Berglund has two goals and an assist in four games, while Steen has a goal and two assists.

Backes has been one of the top scorers for the U.S. with three goals and an assist in four games, while Oshie's shootout performance to beat the Russians has become a legend unto itself.

Oshie scored four times in six attempts to give the Americans a shootout victory.

Jackman said Backes, who helped the Americans win a silver medal in 2010, has proven himself once again.

"For him to be one of the go-to guys on one of the top two lines on a great team shows his leadership there," Jackman said. "He's showing that he can be physical every shift and that's what he's been doing for us. It's just going to ramp up his play coming back."

Blues players are excited to watch both semifinals.

"That's going to be pretty awesome," Blues defenseman Ian Cole said. "With Sweden playing Finland and the U.S. playing Canada there's definitely some border wars going on, but it will be really cool."

Blues winger Brenden Morrow won a gold medal with Canada in 2010 and has been watching his 2014 counterparts with great interest.

"I don't think they've maybe had one game that was out of hand," Morrow said. "The rest of them they've kept you biting your nails throughout. They haven't played their best yet, but you've just got to win by one."

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

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