Blues worried about losing steam during Olympics -

Blues worried about losing steam during Olympics

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- As most NHL players go into a two-week hiatus aside from those that will be playing in the Winter Olympics, the St. Louis Blues may want to rethink whether some time off is good for them right now.

The Blues went into the Olympic break on a three game winning streak after a 4-3 shootout win Saturday night over the NHL's hottest team, the Washington Capitals.

The feelings seemed to be mixed after Saturday's game, as players wondered if the momentum they built with home wins over Detroit, Toronto and Washington will still be there when the team reconvenes March 1.

"You wonder if you're glad there's a break for us or you're not glad because you seem to be picking up steam," said forward David Backes, who will be playing in the Olympics along with Blues defensemen Erik Johnson and Roman Polak. "We can't forget what got us these wins, how we're playing and keep that up when we get back."

Others are glad to get away from the grind of the game.

"I think we're excited to take a couple weeks off," forward T.J. Oshie said. "There's always bumps and bruises in the game of hockey. Everyone has a little thing here or a little thing there. It's tough to get through a couple games without having something bothering you. ... I think when we get back, there'll be that jump, that excitement. We'll try and pick up where we left off."

Goalie Chris Mason was among those who welcomed the break.

"It's been a pretty tough month-and-a-half with the schedule, but I think we're planning on going down to Cancun for a few days. It'll be weird not doing anything in the middle of the season," Mason said.

Blues coach Davis Payne, who took over the position on Jan. 2, said he isn't sure what to think about the break.

"I always think that the grind of the season is what forges your mental toughness. Everybody has to go through games 50-65 and get into the 70s, that positioning that starts to kind of boost up your awareness going down the stretch," he said. "The teams that are able to grind through that part of the schedule and have success usually set themselves up for a pretty good positioning and obviously a pretty good spot mentally for the last 10-, 15-, 20-games."

Backes and Johnson will represent the U.S. in Vancouver, and Polak will play for the Czech Republic.

"There's nothing higher than the Olympics," said Johnson, the NHL's top overall pick in 2006. "There's no stage higher than the Olympics on the international setting. It can't get any better than this."

Backes agreed.

"It's an honor to represent the Red, White and Blue in international competition," said Backes, a Minneapolis native. "We're going there to win. I know a lot of people haven't picked us to medal, but that's kind of a benefit to us that we can sneak up on a few teams, surprise a few guys. In the end, we'll see what happens. Have fun and enjoy the experience."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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