You may be wondering why I am writing about the 24 year old Russian charismatic tank, Vladimir Tarasenko, and the answer is simple. As the St. Louis Blues limped through a busy December into the new year with subpar play, I wonder where they would be without Tarasenko. Instead of being 8-9 since the beginning of January, where would they be without #91? He doesn't just lead the Blues in goals, assists, points, power play goals and shots taken, he leads them in getting shit done and putting fear into the other team's coaches and players. Appreciate him as you draw up your "New Year New Me" game plans. A lot of NHL teams don't have a Tarasenko.
Years ago, before Tarasenko showed up, I asked the Blues to acquire a goal scorer who made the other team rethink their entire game plan. Someone who caused the coach to pull back a line when he hopped on the ice. Tarasenko became that guy quickly. In just 218 games, he has scored 89 goals in Ken Hitchcock's dump and chase non sparkling offensive game plan that squeezes the lights out of certain playmakers. Not Tarasenko.
Not enough? Need more proof. Let's stat this post up. Fenwick is a stat that tracks all shot attempts from an individual player. Shots that hit the net, post, boards or anything else. Tarasenko's iFenwick/60 is 14.22. He unleashes 14 shots per 60 minutes that hit or miss the net. iCorsi takes into account a player's Fenwick plus shots and adds the ones that opposing players stick their bodies in front of. Tarasenko's iCorsi/60 is 20.10 The kid is putting 20 shots towards the net per 60 minutes. Sometimes, that may be a third of the team's total attempts.
How about the league? Tarasenko is 6th in the NHL in iFenwick/60 and 3rd in iCorsi/60 behind Alexander Ovechkin and Montreal's Max Pacioretty. Not bad, eh? He's second in goals with 23, 6th in points with 40, 5th in power play goals with 8 and 6th in shots with 146. Tarasenko also has four game winning goals.
There's nothing worse than a hockey player who is hesitant to shoot(pretty much Ryan Reaves every time he touches the puck). Tarasenko shoots and shoots. He'll never stop. The one solid comparison to Alexander Ovechkin is the shot attempts. While nobody takes as many attempts as Ovie, Tarasenko does like to let it rip. Fire at will.
Out of all the athletes in this city, Tarasenko is the most special. Unlike Carlos Martinez or Todd Gurley or Aaron Donald, he can take over a game at any time. He can jump into the action, out of it and right back in within a minute time bracket. His reach has fewer limits. His ceiling is the highest of any and he can be the face of this franchise for many years to come.
While it's disheartening and frustrating to see the Blues slip into April form in January, remember where there is a Tarasenko, there is always a way out of a slump. Whenever the Blues fail to get it done, their remedy or ability to avenge will start and end with Tarasenko. He even finds ways to score with lesser players skating on his line getting as much ice time.
Since the rest of the net is complaining about the Blues(I've done my fair share), I wanted to write about Tarasenko.
*How many times can we hear Patrik Berglund is excited to be back before fans aren't excited to hear it? Talk about overhyping a player's return.
*Rest in peace Billy Plager. He wasn't the most skilled of the famous Plager brothers, but he made St. Louis his own during his time here. He did a lot of work within the community and became a fan favorite on the ice.
*Troy Brouwer has been ghost like since the end of November but he still has 14 points on the season. He also plays mostly on the third line. Please stop the T.J. Oshie comparative slams. Oshie plays on a top line with Ovie in an offensive minded system. It's so different that it doesn't deserve a comparison so stop. Brouwer may be disappointing but he still plays a required role on this team and can still turn it around.
*Who should be fired first? Darren Panger for overhyping Magnus every game or Hitchcock for his stupid buy in speeches?
*I love Jake Allen but he takes a LOT of chances, gives up the daily soft goal and deserves some criticism. It's okay to say he had a rough game or bad moment fans. It's okay.
If you are attending the game Monday night, you will be able to read this in the brand new issue of St. Louis Game Time. Do so while drinking a fresh pint of Smithwicks Irish Ale outside section 110.
Thanks for reading.