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Defending Vladimir Tarasenko is somehow a thing

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NHL: St. Louis Blues at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Midway through the second period, Vladimir Tarasenko took a feed from Brayden Schenn and buried a wrist shot in the top right corner to tie the game 2-2.

A game changer doing what game-changers do: taking a deficit and eliminating it with one simple shot.

With Tarasenko and the 2017-18 season, perception is key. After 40 and 39 goal seasons coming into October, many fans wanted him to take that next step into Alex Ovechkin land of 45-55 goals. Tarasenko, barring an insane finish, won’t get there-but that’s okay.

The goal tonight gave him 30 for the season, which is his fourth consecutive season of 30 goals or more. Take those 30 pucks and toss them in a bowl with 31 assists, +15 rating, some sophisticated wing sauce, and there’s a guy still producing.

Tarasenko isn’t having a bad season. He’s just not having a superstar-type season. It’s okay. General Manager Doug Armstrong doesn’t need to hear offers for the winger. If he did that, there would be pitchforks downtown....right? The fact that I have to come here and defend the guy is hilarious.

30 goals, 31 assists, +15 rating, with 282 shots should reveal a guy who hasn’t lost a damn thing. The entire team was lost for a few weeks there. The fact that Tarasenko couldn’t pull the team together or work some magic is a reason he doesn’t have the captain’s patch. He’s not that guy. Alex Pietrangelo is. Once again, it’s okay.

One thing I get a laugh at is the whole “he isn’t trying” narrative. If he wasn’t trying, Tarasenko wouldn’t be on pace for the highest shot total of his career. Tarasenko will reach 300 shots on the season by the time the Blues take on Colorado on the final date of the season. That means he is trying.

The Corsi and Fenwick percentages hold up well from last year, and Tarasenko is still creating chances for his teammates. He’s a big reason Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn have high-goal seasons, not just the other way around. Having Tarasenko out there creates traffic around him due to his lethal wrist shot. Unlike Blues great Brett Hull, Tarasenko doesn’t set up for one-timers; he likes taking the puck to the blue dot and letting it rip until a goalie relents and falls.

I don’t buy the weight gain rumors. As long as the guy is still scoring and producing, I couldn’t give two shits what he weighs. He’s not a fourth line grinder. Fake news town.

Let’s not forget the guy is ONLY 26 YEARS OLD. He’s got time to grow and become dynamic. I’m ready to drop the Ovechkin comparisons for good. The Washington Capital sniper tallied five straight 50+ goal seasons to begin his career. He’s in another league. The only comparison is that each guy may finish their career without a Stanley Cup, all those goals possibly going to waste.

In the third period, Tarasenko will get back out there and be lurking around the dot for a go-ahead goal. The Sharks will be watching him, taking their attention off Schwartz, Schenn, and Alexander Steen in the process. #91 creates a predicament for other teams, even when he doesn’t factor on the score sheet.

Here’s the reality: Tarasenko has scored in three straight games since he returned from an upper-body injury. He’s hunting again and finding the back of the net. Goaltenders don’t like seeing him with a puck on his twig with the game on the line and traffic in between. It’s hell or high water or his opposition.

I guess what I’m saying is Vladimir Tarasenko is doing just fine. Place your attention, energy, and skepticism elsewhere, like the fact that the Scottrade Crowd thinks they are Ric Flair all of a sudden.

WOOOOOOO! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Back to your regularly scheduled program of Bernie Federko firing off mind-blowing commentary in between periods.

Goodnight and good luck.