T.J. Oshie was the only finisher that the St. Louis Blues would need to defeat the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 tonight. Oshie, who was a surprise selection for Team USA, was definitely asserting his will on the ice.
He converted passes by Alex Pietrangelo and David Backes, who also got a secondary assist on his first goal. If not for the strong play of Backes in creating chances, one could make the case that he was a one-man offense tonight.
The Blues have been playing very well and are some people’s dark horse pick to win the Stanley Cup. Coach Ken Hitchcock has the winning pedigree to be able to win at the highest level. St. Louis has been playing hockey in a complex system which seems to limit mistakes and take advantage of turnovers to create transition offense.
It is just the type of system needed to help a team like the Blues, who have pretty balanced scoring, and Alexander Steen, who has spent the first part of the season on a complete tear. They probably would like Oshie to score a few more goals, but he does have 29 assists, so you can excuse him for not having a few more markers at this point.
Oshie is a prototypical power forward who is always able to generate offense in unique ways. Though he has never scored 20 goals in a season, he does always seem to put up a decent amount of points, averaging around 30 assists, which he almost has already this year.
This season will probably prove to be a career year for Oshie in terms of both goals and points. Tonight, his pure strength and elusiveness led the Blues to victory in what was probably his best night of the year. His +15 rating is a testimony to how well he fits into Ken Hitchcock’s system.
Oshie is a solid skater who will hopefully be able to help his country to a medal this year in Sochi. He is heating up at the right time, as a very important part of select NHL players’ careers is the chance to compete in the Olympics.