Blues’ Tarasenko starts season on fire


It’s comically early, but so far, Vladimir Tarasenko is making an empathic argument that he was worth the wait for the St. Louis Blues.

The 21-year-old kept the momentum going from a two-goal night on Saturday, helping his Blues squeak by the Nashville Predators with a 4-3 shootout win on Monday thanks in large part to his three points.

Tarasenko is currently tied for the league lead in points at five with Marian Hossa, Martin St. Louis and Thomas Vanek.

You can check out his fancy first NHL goal from the season-opener here, while this assist on an Andy McDonald goal might just be his best Monday highlight:

Here’s his lone tally of the night, for argument’s sake. (NHL.com‘s cute headline: “A patient Vlad.”)

OK, that was pretty nice, too.

Obviously we’re just on day three of the season, but the Russian’s exhilarating start should make him an early leader in the Calder Trophy race.

He might need more ice time to keep his production level high, though. As you can see from his early numbers, he’s making the most of his chances:

Game 1: two goals, five shots and a +1 rating in 13:52 time on ice.

Game 2: one goal, two assists, three shots and a +1 in 14:54 minutes.

To provide some context: 2012 Calder Trophy winner Gabriel Landeskog averaged 18:36 minutes per game. Tarasenko also has great competition in a pretty stacked first-year class.

Scoring five points every two games is too much to ask, but do you believe that Tarasenko will remain atop the rookie race by the end of the season?

Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

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Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.