David Backes helped set the stage for a Semifinals showdown with Team Canada on Friday as Team USA defeated the Czech Republic 5-2. Backes had a goal and an assist in the victory playing on a fearsome line with Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings and Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers. Could the Backes-Callahan pairing be a preview of things to come when the NHL resume’s play next week?
Backes was easily the best player on the ice for the Americans Wednesday, earning the number-one star, scoring what would be the game-winning goal and effectively shutting down the Czech’s top line. The Blues captain had multiple point-blank scoring chances after his goal, and continued dishing out bone-jarring hits throughout the game.
Fellow St. Louis Blues Olympian Kevin Shattenkirk added an assist to his point total, making a gorgeous stretch pass on Team USA’s final goal. T.J. Oshie finished the game with zero points but helped in his own feisty way, killing penalties and drawing one to negate an early Czech power-play.
It’s especially exciting to watch these Olympic games and see St. Louis Blues players being recognized as among the best in the world, more so that they are contributing each and every game. Earlier in the day, fellow Bluenote Alexander Steen scored the game-winning goal for Sweden as they too advanced to the Semi’s.
The USA-Canada match-up will feature the bruising Backes, shifty Shattenkirk, and outrageously talented Oshie going head-to-head at times with NHL teammates Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. The guys will still have much love for each other once the final buzzer sounds, but I anticipate highly spirited battles in the corners on Friday.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!