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Five Questions With...

Five Questions with Ryan O'Reilly

Blues center discusses adjusting to life in St. Louis, building chemistry with Tarasenko

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs throughout the 2018-19 regular season. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the most recent news.

The latest edition features St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly.

CHICAGO - - When Ryan O'Reilly heard he had been traded to the St. Louis Blues by the Buffalo Sabres for three forwards and two draft picks on July 1, he was pleasantly distracted.

The 27-year-old center had married fiancee Dayna Douros on June 30.

"I was just having a day with family and everyone together," O'Reilly said of that Sunday. "I get a call and, yeah, I'm going to St. Louis. It was a big thing in my personal life and then another big chance [in the NHL]. I knew something was going to happen, I just didn't know where, and it couldn't have worked out better."

O'Reilly is in a good place, personally and professionally. He's married with a 10-month-old son, Jameson. He has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in eight games, and has solidified depth at center for the Blues.

"It's been a smooth transition," he said. "I knew a few guys on the team, so that makes an easier adjustment. I didn't know a whole lot about the city but quickly found out how great it was. I had a ton of people reach out and I love it there. It's a hockey town, they love their Blues and it's nice to be a part of it. Hockey-wise it's great. We've got a great group of guys and we're slowly starting to get better and better."

O'Reilly spoke more about adjusting to St. Louis and his face-off skills in an interview with NHL.com.

Here are Five Questions with … Ryan O'Reilly.

 

The Blues have had some ups and downs. Is that just part of the early season and welcoming in new players like yourself?

"We're getting more comfortable with each other. It's such a good League that when teams are feeling good and they make a push, it's tough. In games, there are always ups and downs. But it's about living those downs and riding the ups as long as you can. As we go on, we'll be more consistent and we'll be able to maintain the ups a lot more."

 

Has it taken some time to develop chemistry with right wing Vladimir Tarasenko?

"It's a constant process. More and more, you get used to each other. The last few games we've been playing really well and have had a ton of chances. He's very easy to play with and he's so dangerous out there. Teams are always worried about him, and you see why. If he gets the puck, most likely it's in the back of the net. So it's very easy to play with him. I feel that we're slowly getting better and better every game. Every time we touch the ice together we get a little more comfortable and it's a great adjustment."

Video: STL@TOR: O'Reilly pots Tarasenko's perfect pass

 

Is it a matter of communication, knowing where Tarasenko is at all times?

"It's a bunch of different things. For myself, it's putting the puck in areas where he wants it. For a one-timer, it's getting it in the right spot so he can get the perfect shot out of it. Or areas where he creates space, I want to get the puck over to those. It's just all these little things that happen through playing a game. Practice can help a bit, but it's more [about] those game situations, seeing and getting reads on guys and making adjustments with him. There are always little elements that keep progressing."

 

You're one of the best in the NHL at face-offs (61.9 percent). What works for you?

"I think it's a combination of everything. I have a stiff stick. Some guys use sticks that are a lot whippier, which helps them with shooting the puck more. But it gives me an advantage because my stick's stronger in there, so a lot of times I'll get good bounces through face-offs. It's having good wingers, too, giving them an idea of, 'Hey, the puck's most likely going to be in this area if I lose it.' Sometimes they jump in and win the draw for you, that kind of thing. It's being strong on the stick and strong in your core. Now what works for me doesn't work for someone else. Everyone's different. Some guys are just very hand-eye, getting the puck clean. Some guys, like me, just lean on their sticks heavy. Some are more tie-up and win draws that way. There are different elements to it. It's definitely a unique skill for everyone."

Video: CHI@STL: Parayko buries O'Reilly's sweet dish for PPG

 

The Central Division has been tough for a while. Do you expect anything different this season?

"No, and it's a good thing. You know you have to be on every night. There's never an easy game, but in the Central, every team in here has a chance to make the playoffs and they're showing it. So every night you know how important every point is. It makes for exciting hockey. I think that's why the fans enjoy watching it."

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