Tag: TJ Oshie


Oshie in, Tarasenko out for Blues


St. Louis forward TJ Oshie will replace rookie Vladimir Tarasenko in the Blues’ lineup for tonight’s series-opener against the Kings at the Scottrade Center.

Oshie last played on March 28. A couple of weeks ago, he underwent a procedure to fix a stress fracture in his ankle. Prior to the injury, the 26-year-old has seven goals and 13 assists in 30 games.

Despite the lineup move, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he expects Tarasenko to play at some point during the series.

“He’s played his best hockey when he’s been rested, so we expect him to come into this series and be a rested player,” Hitchcock said, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac.

Tarasenko, 21, netted five goals in his first seven games with the Blues, but scored just three more times in his next 31 outings.

Five Q’s: Kings-Blues series preview

Jonathan Quick
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1. Can Jonathan Quick rediscover his Conn Smythe Trophy form?

If April was any indication, yes.

While Quick’s overall numbers on the year weren’t stellar — 18-13-4, .902 save percentage, 2.45 GAA — his stats in the final month suggest he’s rounding into form.

The 27-year-old went 6-3-1 in April, posting a 2.25 GAA and, perhaps most importantly, a .917 save percentage.

The bigger question, though, will be if Quick can put together a string of consecutive efforts, something he accomplished last postseason but has had problems doing this year (Quick’s longest winning streak was three games, and he only did it once.)

2. Can the Blues score enough goals?

St. Louis finished 17th in the NHL in goals per game (2.58), but struggled to score in April. That included a stretch where the Blues notched just seven regulation goals in seven games…but they went 5-2-0 over that same stretch, alleviating some concern.

The playoffs, though, are a different beast.

Teams don’t have success if they’re not producing offensively — something St. Louis learned the hard way against the Kings last year, scoring just six times during a four-game sweep out of the second round.

This year, the offensive x-factor is TJ Oshie, who underwent stress fracture surgery (ankle) two weeks ago.

Head coach Ken Hitchcock says Oshie will be ready to go, and that’s key for St. Louis’ offensive outlook. The 26-year-old had 20 points in 30 games this year and led the Blues in power-play assists, with eight.

3. Elliott or Halak?

It’s the same question Hitchcock faced a year ago before naming Jaroslav Halak the starter for the opening playoff round.

This year, Brian Elliott’s the No. 1.

And with good reason. The 28-year-old was the league’s hottest netminder in April, capturing second star of the month on the strength of an 11-2-0 record, 1.28 GAA and .948 save percentage.

Of course, things can change quickly in the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if Halak makes an appearance at some point, especially since he’s the more experienced postseason netminder, having backstopped Montreal to the Eastern Conference finals in 2010.

4. Who wins the physical battle?

The term “meat grinder” has been used to describe this series.

The Blues have two players in the NHL’s top-20 in hits (David Backes, Ryan Reaves) while the Kings counter with two of their own (Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford).

Both teams love to get in on the forecheck and punish opposing defensemen, so the battle could be decided by which blueliners are able to withstand the punishment.

Last year, LA made a conscious effort to take the body on Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, a strategy that paid off as Pietrangelo was banged up and nearly forced out of the lineup.

5. How much will the Kings miss Willie Mitchell?

Mitchell was an underrated piece of Los Angeles’ 2011-12 success. He scored a career-high 24 points during the regular season and shouldered a huge workload in the playoffs, averaging 25:19 TOI per game through 20 contests.

Only Drew Doughty played more minutes.

Mitchell’s loss will especially be felt most in two important playoff departments: penalty killing (he averaged a team-high 3:41 shorthanded TOI per game) and shot-blocking (led the Kings with 55).

LA will hope the void can be filled by trade deadline acquisition Robyn Regehr, but that might be asking a lot from a guy that hasn’t participated in the postseason since 2008.

For all the first-round playoff previews, click here.

Oshie will be ‘ready to go,’ says Hitch


The St. Louis Blues are about to get some much-needed scoring help.

According to head coach Ken Hitchcock, forward TJ Oshie is nearly ready to return after undergoing a procedure to fix a stress fracture in his ankle.

“He’ll be a full-time participant starting tomorrow, so he’ll be ready to go,” said Hitchcock today, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac.

Oshie, 26, has seven goals and 13 assists in 30 games.

The Blues host Calgary tonight, then finish the regular season Saturday at home to Chicago.

It’s not clear if Oshie will be back for the Blackhawks game or if he’ll make his return in the playoffs.

St. Louis has struggled badly to score lately. In their last 10 games, the Blues have just 15 goals.

Related: Blues’ Oshie back skating, one week after ankle surgery

Blues’ Oshie back skating, one week after ankle surgery

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It didn’t take long for TJ Oshie to get back on skates following ankle surgery.

Seven days, to be exact.

That was the news out of St. Louis on Tuesday morning as NHL.com’s Lou Korac reported Oshie resume skating, seven days after undergoing a procedure to fix a stress fracture.

The Blues originally thought they were getting Oshie back last week. The day prior to his surgery, he was skating with the club and head coach Ken Hitchcock said it was Oshie’s “best day” since being placed on injured reserve on Apr. 2.

Shortly thereafter, they discovered the stress fracture.

The loss has been a tough one for St. Louis, who already saw Oshie lose a handful of games earlier this season to a rib injury.

The 26-year-old was having a solid campaign, posting 7G-13A-20PTS in 30 games while averaging over 19 minutes per game.

Oshie also leads the team in power-play assists, with eight.

As for when he’ll return? Last week, the former first-round pick told True Hockey’s Andy Strickland his goal is to return for the opening game of the playoffs.

Despite wins, Blues have to be concerned about lack of scoring

Blues versus Coyotes
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It’s not often a team scores just seven goals in seven games and ends up with five victories.

But that’s exactly what the Blues have managed in their last seven contests. Two 1-0 wins. One 2-0 victory. And a couple of 2-1 shootout triumphs, including last night’s over Phoenix.

Suffice to say, goalie Brian Elliott has been their most important player. The 28-year-old who struggled so badly earlier this season was the savior once again on Thursday.

“We didn’t play our best game,” St. Louis d-man Barret Jackman said, per the Post-Dispatch. “I think we let the way that they play dictate the way we played. And it should be the other way around. We were trying to pick them apart instead of playing in straight lines.

“The two points is huge and (Elliott) stood on his head again.”

“We can’t play like that at this time of the year,” added head coach Ken Hitchcock. “Even if you do get into the playoffs, there’s too many holes in your game.

“The goalie saved us tonight.”

Offensively, St. Louis has fallen all the way to 17th in the NHL (2.54 goals per game).

One of the major reasons? The Blues — who started the season with a red-hot power play — have scored just twice with the man advantage in their last 15 games.

At the very least, St. Louis has had at least 30 shots in each of its past four outings. Opposition goalies — including Vezina Trophy candidate Sergei Bobrovsky, plus two others enjoying strong seasons in Chicago’s Corey Crawford and Vancouver’s Cory Schneider — have combined for a .977 save percentage over that stretch.

St. Louis hosts a desperate Dallas side tonight. The Stars, unlike the Blues, aren’t have trouble scoring. They’ve got 26 goals in their last seven games.

Related: TJ Oshie thinks he can be back by playoffs