ST. LOUIS — T.J. Oshie had a pretty good idea that David Backes would be among the group selected to represent the United States at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
But after his St. Louis Blues teammate’s name was announced Wednesday, following the Winter Classic game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium, that’s when things got tense for Oshie and teammate Kevin Shattenkirk.
But all three Blues were selected as part of a 25-man roster that will represent the U.S. in Sochi, Russia.
"I think we all had a pretty good idea that Backs was going to be on the team again," Oshie said. "Then when I heard my name I was just praying that it was going to be Shatty. I saw some young D-men go early there. I didn’t realize it was in alphabetical order, so I was panicking a little bit. It’s going to be great. These guys are hard workers, they are battlers, and it’s going to be fun to go to war with them on another team."
Backes, Oshie and Shattenkirk all watched the televised announcement, which turned out to be a career highlight for all three.
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"It was great, kind of a big sigh of relief and just a lot of emotions going through my head right when it happened — a little disbelief and shock," Oshie said. "But I’m very happy and very excited and very honored to be named to the team."
Oshie had said previously that he was losing some sleep thinking about whether he would be selected to the team.
"It’s one of hockey’s biggest stages," he said. "To play for your country and have that USA sweater on means all that much more."
Shattenkirk didn’t know what to expect.
"It was quite an experience not knowing going into it," the defenseman said. "You never know. It can go any which way. You never know who they are going to pick because there’s such a great pool of players now. It was fun to see my name. I got a lot of support, a lot of text messages and phone calls from a lot of friends and family. So it was a very cool experience."
Backes is now a two-time Olympian.
"It’s quite an honor and really humbling to be representing my country a second time, a second chance to win that gold medal that we were one goal away from in 2010 and bring along a couple great teammates, too," Backes said. "It was a good day yesterday to see those names being announced, but there’s a lot of work ahead of us."
But that doesn’t mean the Blues’ captain didn’t also have his fair share of nerves Wednesday. He joked that he was probably even happier than Oshie was for his teammate’s selection to the team.
It was quite a day for the three Blues.
"We were all pretty excited this morning when we saw each other," Shattenkirk said. "We had pretty big smiles on our faces. It’s special to share it with two friends who you get to see every day, and I know there’s going to be a lot more guys in this locker room going, but we’ll kind of have that other bond that we can always share here for a long, long time and hopefully we can do something special, too, because I think that would be great to do it with those two guys."
BLUES MAKE ROSTER MOVES
The Blues made two roster moves Thursday, recalling goaltender Jake Allen from Chicago and activating forward Ryan Reaves from the injured reserve list.
Allen, 23, has a 2.17 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and 14-7-2 record in 23 games for Chicago this season. He appeared in 15 games for the Blues last season, going 9-4-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.
The Blues recalled Allen because Jaroslav Halak is still fighting an illness.
"We just told Jaro it’s best to stay at home right now for a day or two until you’re cleared up," Hitchcock said. "It comes and goes. He feels good for a couple hours and then he doesn’t feel good. He’s at 70 percent, and first of all, that’s not good enough to play and it’s not getting any better. A couple days away will really help him."
Brian Elliott is scheduled to make his third straight start Thursday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings. Elliott has been strong in net this season, going 10-1-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.
Neither Halak nor Allen was at the morning skate Thursday.
Reaves has missed the past 17 games after breaking a bone in his right hand during a fight with the Dallas Stars’ Brenden Dillon on Nov. 23.
"He’s lost weight, he’s quicker than when he was playing," Hitchcock said. "He’s 100 percent now. We waited until the last possible date."
Reaves has accounted for two goals and two assists for four points and 65 penalty minutes in 22 games this season. He comes off the injured reserve list at a good time with forwards Backes and Chris Stewart considered day to day with upper-body injuries and Alexander Steen out indefinitely with a concussion.
The Blues sent 20-year-old forward Dmitrij Jaskin back to Chicago on Wednesday to make room on the roster for the returns of Reaves and defenseman Jordan Leopold, which could happen Saturday.
Jaskin played in four games and scored his first career goal in Saturday’s win against the Blackhawks at Scottrade Center.
"We played him anywhere from 10-15 minutes, which for a young guy coming (up) is a lot of minutes," coach Ken Hitchcock said Wednesday. "I thought he did more than hold his own. He doesn’t look like a big guy, but he plays like a big guy, plays strong, strong on the puck. I think he’s got a great future ahead of him. He’s going to be a heck of a player."
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