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Hockey

Singing the Blues in St. Louis

News broke out in the NHL on Monday that St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko underwent shoulder surgery and will be on injured reserve for the next five months, when he will be re-evaluated.

Tarasenko exited Thursday nights 5-2 victory over the Kings midway through the first period, after getting tangled up with Kings defenceman Sean Walker. At the time, Tarasenko had eight points in his last five games.

A 27-year-old native of Yaroslavl, Russia, Tarasenko recorded 68 points in 76 games last season. He was an essential part of the Blues’ Stanley Cup Championship team last season, recording 17 points in 26 playoff games. An obvious important part of the team, how will Tarasenko’s five month absence affect the Blues? Let’s weigh in.

Kyle Hernandez / Game Changer Sports Network

Vladimir Tarasenko has likely become a household name to hockey fans in St. Louis. Known for his offensive production, the Russian winger has had an impressive career thus far, posting 428 points in 507 career NHL games and adding a Stanley Cup ring to his resume last year. Tarasenko has been arguably one of the most consistent players on the Blues’ squad, as he has eclipsed the 30-goal plateau in each of his past five seasons. He currently has 10 points in 10 games this season, a pace that would see him score 82 points in a full season. With Tarasenko undergoing shoulder surgery that will see him sidelined for the next five months, the Blues will need some of their bottom-six forwards to step up to the plate, or it could be a huge blow to the team’s offence.

The Blues will still have a well-rounded top line most likely featuring Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Jaden Schwartz. But in Tarasenko’s absence, some younger forwards in Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev, Robert Thomas, and Oskar Sundqvist will have to step up. Between these four players, they have only put up 4 goals and 8 points. The numbers from the Blues’ bottom six and these four players in particular, will have to improve if the Blues want to stay among the top teams in the Central Division. Sanford, Barbashev, Thomas, and Sundqvist quietly helped lead the Blues to a championship last year, as they were clutch when they needed to be and put up a decent number of points between the four of them. Now is the time for them to step up like they did in the playoffs.

Jeff Curry / USA Today Sports

The defence corps for the Blues still seems pretty solid, led by team captain Alex Pietrangelo, experienced veteran Jay Bouwmeester, newcomer Justin Faulk and young stud Colton Parayko. On the blue line, the Blues will need another young player, Vince Dunn, to play the same style of shut-down hockey he did in the playoffs last year. Second-year goaltender Jordan Binnington has fit into his starting role quite nicely.

Head Coach Craig Berube took over this team last season when they were in 31st place in the league and on the outside looking in. From that point forward, he righted the ship and coached the Blues to a remarkable come-from-behind season, winning the Stanley Cup in June. This Blues team has seen it all and has proven time and time again that they can deal well with adversity. Yes, Tarasenko’s loss will sting, but if the young guns on this team can step up, Missouri’s beloved NHL team will be just fine.

Featured photo courtesy of Jeff Curry / USA Today Sports

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