Vladimir Tarasenko is in his 8th season with the St. Louis Blues. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Four games into the 2019-20 season, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko has yet to put the biscuit in the basket. We’ve heard chatter in the circles of Blues fandom that would indicate some of you are worried. Even worse, some of you have been critical and called into question his effort.
Hold your horses! Let’s slow down a little bit. There is no reason to panic. Here’s why:
Depth Scoring Takes Pressure off Russian Sniper
This team has depth scoring as good as any team in the entire NHL. We highlighted it more than once last season. First, in our playoff preview and then in the Stanley Cup Final preview. With the depth that the Blues have, someone different every night is the hero. Sometimes it might be 4th-liner Oskar Sundqvist. Other nights it’s a defenseman or any number of guys. It’s not on one man’s shoulders.
Cream Comes to the Top
Looking back at the past 6 seasons, Vladi sits tied for 3rd in goals scored behind Alexander Ovechkin and John Tavares, tied with Nikita Kucherov. He’s ahead of guys like Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, and Brad Marchand. See the chart at Quant Hockey.com. Do you think that doesn’t carry with it some pressure? Every single night, his name is one that is circled on the ‘chalkboard’ and singled out as a guy that you have to contain. When a team is able to execute their game plan, it’s hard for him to find time and space to do what he can do best. But that just frees up other people to score.
Goals Can Come in Bunches
Like a streaky 3-point shooter in basketball, when one goes in, expect more to follow soon. Vladi has been somewhat streaky throughout his career. He can go through stretches without goals but then can quickly put up 5 or 6 in 3 or 4 games. They seem to come in bunches when he gets hot.
Playing Through Injuries Plays a Part
Some of the times when he’s been criticized for ‘disappearing’ he’s played through injuries that nobody knew about. Case in point, last season he started the season possibly not yet at 100% following off-season surgery and then finished the season with a shoulder injury suffered late in the regular season or early in the playoffs. Yet he still scored 33 goals in 76 games played.
Numbers Prove He Will Get His Share
Since the 2014-15 season, when he first played a near-full season at 77 games, he’s averaged 36 goals and 35 assists for 71 points per season. Yes, he has had long stretches within a season where he can’t get a goal. Throughout his past 6 seasons, he’s had streaks of 5 and 6 games without a goal. Even 7 and 8 a couple of times. Last year he hit the longest scoreless streak of his career since becoming a full-time player with a 10 game goal-less streak. But he also had 8 goals in a 6-game stretch in the month of February. He also had 3 goals in the Stanley Cup Final.
The other thing about Vladi is that when someone else scores for the Blues, it’s hard to find anyone who looks any happier about it than #91. Sure he gets mad at himself when he doesn’t score, but it certainly doesn’t look like it’s all about him and how many goals he can score. He’s happy when his team succeeds. A true teammate.
Sure, Vladi is still looking for his first goal of the 2019-20 season. But I don’t want to think about a Blues team without him. He will get it going. He will find the net. That’s what he does. And he will keep on doing it. Let’s sit back and enjoy this team and see what happens. I like our chances with Vladimir Tarasenko on the ice.