Blues hint at Tarasenko’s possible playoff debut

Despite having a 2-1 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings, the St. Louis Blues have struggled to create offense in a skin-tight first three games. The Kings’ Game 3 shutout begs the question: what needs to happen for the Blues to unleash Vladimir Tarasenko on the 2013 playoffs?

It’s no guarantee that he’ll be off the healthy scratches list in Game 4 on Monday, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that head coach Ken Hitchcock gave him some vague encouragement to get prepared.

“Get ready to play,” Hitchcock told Tarasenko.

Before Tarasenko fans get too excited, do note that he didn’t say “Get ready to play tomorrow/on Monday.”

Hitchock admits he needs time to mull that decision over.

“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” Hitchcock said. “That’s tomorrow’s decision. I’ll have to sleep on a lot of that stuff just to see what we need. I think he looks hungry and ready to play and I’m sure he’s going to play well when he gets in. But you’re not really sure if you want to screw around with the lineup right now when we’re playing so well, so I’ve got to balance that out right now.”

Beyond the fact that he’s a 21-year-old rookie, it’s worth noting that Tarasenko finished the 2013 season on a 15-game goal drought.

Then again, that slump came after he scored twice versus the Kings on March 28 …

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.

Jordan Weal to make NHL debut for Kings

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Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.

Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.

A 23-year-old center, Weal is expected to replace Andy Andreoff and skate between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line.

“It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”

The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.

Related: Jordan Weal is looking to make the leap