Vladimir Tarasenko

Tarasenko ‘still can’t believe’ he made Russian Olympic team


The second-youngest player named to the Russian Olympic team, Vladimir Tarasenko is still in a state of disbelief.

“I still can’t believe it,” Tarasenko said, per NHL.com. “It’s a dream of everybody in Russia to make the Olympics. The Olympics is the highest point of hockey. I’m so excited right now.”

Of the players on the Russian team, only Dallas’ 18-year-old rookie, Valeri Nichushkin, is younger than Tarasenko who — at age 22 — is enjoying a tremendous sophomore campaign in St. Louis. Tarasenko sits third on the Blues in goals, with 15, and is averaging over 15 minutes a night after getting around 13-and-a-half during his rookie year.

All told, he’s already notched a career-high in points (28) and sits fourth among all Russian skaters in scoring, trailing only Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk.

Tarasenko figures to be a key cog for the Russians in Sochi. The team is top-heavy at forward but will need contributions from all four lines, especially when matched up against teams with depth on defense. As for what kind of role Tarasenko will fill? Blues GM Doug Armstrong says he could play one similar to that of his high-energy teammates in St. Louis.

“I said it at the time and I’ll say it again: He’s the Russian version of T.J. Oshie with his attitude,” Armstrong explained. “He’s smiling, happy, loves hockey, wants to be around the rink.”

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?