During the regular season, Tarasenko had the most power-play points among forwards with 24. He is tied with Jaden Schwartz for the most points in the playoffs among all players with three.
Asked about Tarasenko’s limited ice time on the unit in Game 5, Hitchcock replied: "I don’t really look at that. He had the most shifts on the team; he had 40 shifts. That’s a lot of ice."
Tarasenko had 41 shifts Thursday and played 21:28, with none on the penalty killing unit. That ranked seventh among forwards behind Stastny (31:17), Brouwer (30:11), Alexander Steen (29:31), Fabbri (22:38), David Backes (22:30) and Schwartz (21:49).
Considering that Hitchcock had the last line change and the match-up advantage, it's interesting that the team's most dangerous player was one of the least utilized of the top nine forwards. It's even more interesting when you continue that game five was an elimination game. Running your team's best player into the ground isn't advisable; however, it can help you close out the round. He'll have time to rest up before round two starts.
This has been a series long trend. In game one he was sixth among forwards in TOI. Game two, he was fifth, and scored a goal. Game three he was sixth, with an assist. In game four, his best of the series (two goals and an assist), he was fifth.
What gives? Games three and four could be chalked up to trying to get favorable lines out there on the ice. Perhaps it has to do with utilization of Lehtera (Schwartz' TOI has been similar to Tarasenko's)?
A nail in the Blackhawks' coffin tonight would be nice. Getting Tarasenko out there may be the hammer - the Hawks seemed incapable of defending him in game four.