NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, February 26th
(All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (39-12-6) at Vancouver Canucks (27-24-9), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - T.J. Oshie had one of the more memorable experiences
during the Winter Olympics, even if the American was unable to get his country
Oshie will now focus on giving the St. Louis Blues sole possession of first
place in the Central Division on Wednesday night in a road matchup with the
struggling Vancouver Canucks.
Oshie was part of a Team USA squad that failed to medal in Sochi, though the
27-year-old was briefly the talk of the Olympics after he scored four times
during an eight-round shootout to help lift the U.S. to a win over Russia
during group play.
The forward became a media sensation and U.S. hero for his clutch performance,
though he fizzled out like the rest of Team USA, which failed to beat Canada
in the semifinals before falling in defeat to Finland in the bronze medal
"It was pretty crazy after that shootout. It's all a little bitter now that we
get back and have nothing to show for it, but it was a pretty cool couple of
days after that seeing some of my family on some major TV shows and stuff like
that," said Oshie.
The Blues do return a number of players who collected medals in Sochi,
including gold medal-winning defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester
of Team Canada as well as forwards Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund, who
picked up silver with Sweden.
Steen continued his solid campaign that has seen him score a career-high 28
goals through just 46 games on the season.
St. Louis comes out of the break having gone 3-0-1 in its previous four while
winning seven of its last 10. The Blues are even with the idle Chicago
Blackhawks for the top spot in the Central standings with 84 points, three
behind the Anaheim Ducks for the most in the NHL.
The Blues play their next three on the road looking to maintain that success,
something Oshie believes his club can do.
"I think so. We've got some guys coming off some pretty big highs, getting a
gold and silver medal, and we've got some other guys like myself and (forward
David) Backes that are fired up we didn't get anything," Oshie said. "I feel
like after big losses like that, it inspires you to work harder. It's always
easy coming back to this group of guys."
The Canucks may have needed the break more than any team as they went into the
hiatus having lost seven in a row, including a winless five-game road trip to
close out the pre-Olympic schedule.
Vancouver has lost seven in a row in regulation for the first time since Dec.
26-Jan. 6 during the 1998-99 campaign and is on its longest skid of any kind
since going 0-5-3 from Jan. 9-31, 2009.
The Canucks have 63 points on the season, one back of Phoenix and Dallas for
the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
The break did allow Henrik Sedin some additional time to heal from a rib
injury that has held him to just two games since Jan. 18 and caused him to sit
out the Olympics.
However, forward Ryan Kesler may be unable to play tonight due to a hand
injury suffered while blocking a shot for Team USA on Feb. 15. He did not miss
time during the Olympics, but had an MRI scheduled for Monday and is
questionable for tonight's contest.
Vancouver recalled center Kellan Lain from the American Hockey League on
Regardless, the Canucks will look to get on track while playing their next
three as the home team. That includes March 2 in the Heritage Classic versus
Ottawa to be played at BC Place, which features a retractable roof.
The Canucks have won two prior meetings with the Blues this season and are
5-0-2 in the last seven encounters overall. Vancouver also is 3-0-1 in its
past four versus St. Louis at home.
02/26 10:47:07 ET