With all of the questions surrounding the selections for the American Olympic roster, T.J. Oshie answered the bell with one of his better games of the season.
The 2014 Olympian propelled the St. Louis Blues to a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night. It was the Blues’ first win of the season against a California team and first regular-season victory against L.A. since Feb. 3, 2012.
With the Blues leading 1-0, Oshie added his seventh goal of the season at 11:41 of the second period when he drove to the net and received a trickling Jaden Schwartz shot. Oshie blistered a shot that eluded rookie goalie Martin Jones and chased him from his crease.
After Ben Scrivens took over between the pipes, Oshie struck again 1 minute, 31 seconds later for his eighth tally of 2013-14. After linemate Vladimir Sobotka won a faceoff in the offensive zone, Oshie gathered the puck and fired a wrist shot past Scrivens on the first shot the netminder faced.
Blues Goalie Brian Elliott stopped all 30 shots en route to his third shutout of the season while Vladimir Tarasenko and Barret Jackman added third-period goals to seal the deal. Brenden Morrow added the first goal for the Blues on the power play early in the first period.
Oshie’s performance was even more impressive when considering usual linemates David Backes and Alexander Steen were both sidelined with injuries. The Everett, Wash. native started and ended his evening on the top line with Sobotka and Schwartz.
Oshie’s outburst came just 24 hours after the announcement of the U.S. Olympic roster. After the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, U.S. Team general manager David Poile and his selection committee displayed the Olympic lineup in a ceremony at center ice. Of the Blues players selected, Backes came first, then Oshie, then defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
Controversy instantly surrounded the final selections, as forwards Bobby Ryan and Kyle Okposo, among others, were snubbed from the roster. Eyebrows were particularly raised at the decisions on Oshie, Montreal Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty and Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler.
But Oshie pointed out why he was selected for the Olympic roster when chatting with Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post – Dispatch.
“I’ve had this in my sights since the last Olympics and not making that team,” Oshie said on Wednesday. “I’ve just been working hard for a long time and it’s nice to have something to show for it.”
The selection committee felt that Oshie added “intangibles” that others could not provide. This was specifically outlined by Kevin Allen of USA Today in his piece regarding how the team was selected:
It’s been clear from the first meeting in August that the U.S. coaches wanted Oshie. They appreciate the chemistry Oshie has with Backes in St. Louis, and they are thinking about playing him alongside Backes in Sochi. They like Oshie’s dominant shootout skill, and his penalty-killing ability.
“They think the intangibles put him above the other guys,” Poile said. “The one thing they are asking for is Oshie.”
Oshie is likely to see his linemate and captain, Backes, return on Saturday when the Blues host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Doubting Oshie’s nomination seemed to only fuel his fire Thursday night. Just imagine the flames when he steps on the ice at an international level.