Vladimir Tarasenko is not the same type of player as Alexander Ovechkin, which makes him no less dynamic, and no less exciting. While huge expectations are on Tarasenko, superstardom is old hat for the Capitals' winger, who is off to a very untypical slow start this season.
Here's what Ovechkin had to say about Tarasenko to Jeremy Rutherford (and peruse the complete article, please - it's a must-read):
"He’s showing right now his skill," Ovechkin told the Post-Dispatch this week. "You can see how he scored the goal against the Rangers and everybody is talking about it. He beat probably two defensemen. It’s always going to be in his memory and it’s a highlight goal. He’s a great passer and great skater as well.
"I’m really happy for him because he was kind of a little bit struggling in his career, but right now you can see how much he’s growing up. He just make great jump in his career and he’s carrying the team right now."
That's an understatement. The STL line has been carrying the Blues so far the entire season. The last two games against Buffalo and the Predators saw some other players such as Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie get on the scoresheet after missing extended time with injuries, but that production needs to continue. Tonight's lines have a lot of potential to get something started.
#stlblues lines: Berglund-Backes-Oshie, Steen-Stastny-Lindstrom, Schwartz-Lehtera-Tarasenko, Ott-Lapierre-Reaves.— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) November 15, 2014
At the very least, maybe Patrik Berglund's solid possession skills can create a chance or two for David Backes and Oshie. Tonight's lines may be three dominant scoring lines and one with Steve Ott. I'll take that.
The Capitals are 7-6-3 and sit in fourth place in the Mehtro Division. They haven't been able to hold any sustained pressure in many of their games. While they played the Blues exceedingly well last season, winning both games 4-1, this isn't the same team. Ovechkin isn't the only threat on the Caps, though against the Blues he is the biggest - he has five goals and nine assists in nine games against St. Louis. Nicklas Backstrom has been playing well recently and has six goals and four assists against the Blues in his career.
Brian Elliott is in net tonight. Ells has been playing well, but traditionally gets the short end of the stick against the Caps. His GAA is 3.50 against them, which isn't that good. He may benefit from the fact that the Capitals played (and lost) last night. What he would benefit from more is some defense against Alex Ovechkin and his team. The Caps seem to like to light the Blues up. Clamping down on that would go a long way to winning tonight.
"It’s always fun to play against good skilled players," Ovechkin said. "Hopefully [Tarasenko]’s not going to show his skill against us."
Don't bet on that, Ovie.