(Photo: Jeff Curry / USA Today)
Vladimir Tarasenko has spent the majority of his ice time alongside Ryan O’Reilly. In my opinion, this needs to change. Their names are only on the scoresheet together to account for 11 of St. Louis’ 86 goals.
Vladimir has 9 goals and 11 assists for 20 points in 30 games played. Just 3 of Tarasenko’s goals have been a direct result of a primary assist from Ryan O’Reilly. Also, Only 4 of O’Reilly’s 13 goals were a result of a primary assist from Tarasenko. Do the math. These two superstars have set each other up, successfully, just 7 times.
To account for the rest of their work together, Tarasenko has just 2 secondary assists to O’Reilly, and O’Reilly, just 2 secondary assists to Tarasenko.
The plan has been understood. O’Reilly wins faceoffs. It’s the main reason he’s centering Vladimir. Puck possession. But, it’s not resulting in Tarasenko goals. Vladimir needs to lead his line, and he can’t do that with Ryan O’Reilly doing his thing. It’s just not the best option for the Blues.
Last season, the top line of Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, and Vladimir Tarasenko displayed undeniable chemistry. They were one of the best lines in hockey, but these three simply haven’t seen much time together this season. In fact, Brayden Schenn has assisted Vladimir zero times. Jaden Schwartz (when healthy) has registered just one secondary assist to Tarasenko, and that’s when Alex Pietrangelo set up Vladi for the only time this season.
I am suggesting that 90 and 91 simply should not be playing on the same line. I know every Blues fan wanted Ryan O’Reilly to be that playmaking centerman that pushes Vladimir Tarasenko over the 40 goal per season mark for the first time in his career, but It’s just not happening.
I do not believe that these two particular players complement one another in the way Blues fans had hoped for in the offseason. O’Reilly does not need Tarasenko, and Tarasenko does not need O’Reilly. Split these guys up, and you’ve got a double punch. The top line is star heavy.
Vladimir Tarasenko needs a system in place. That system is Schenn and Schwartz. If you want to get the most out of your sniper, this is the trio that must stick together night in and night out. In my opinion, Ryan O’Reilly would be perfectly fine centering a line with David Perron and Pat Maroon or Robert Thomas at this point.
If Maroon plays to the left of O’Reilly, David Perron should play the right wing. If you want Robert Thomas in the top 6, put Perron on his off wing (he’s good there), and slot Thomas in on that right side.
O’Reilly is a step ahead of this game and he is constantly finding himself prime scoring opportunities. He’ll do that regardless of whether Perron, Thomas, Kyrou, Maroon, Sanford, Steen or Fabbri (injured) are his wingers.
I, however, prefer Maroon be the guy to O’Reilly’s left because I want some speed on the 3rd line.
- Schwartz – Schenn – Tarasenko
- Maroon – O’Reilly – Perron
- Steen – Bozak – Thomas
- Nolan – Barbashev – Sundqvist
Thanks for reading, Blues fans.