‘Vintage’ performance reminds us what a healthy Vladimir Tarasenko can do

Vladimir tarasenko
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Vladimir Tarasenko took off the headset and glanced around the energized Enterprise Center. His postgame interview with Bally Sports Midwest’s Darren Pang got off to a delayed start as the Blues forward — and First Star of Monday’s 3-0 win over the Kings — soaked in the “Vladi! Vladi! Vladi!” chants and acknowledged the crowd.

It was a deserved moment of recognition for the veteran forward. Tarasenko’s two goals helped St. Louis to a 5-0-0 start and the appreciation from the hometown fans showed just how much he has meant to the city and franchise.

“That was a special moment,” said Tarasenko afterward. “It was very emotional. We always have support from the real fans. I always said it in the interviews. Our family got so much help from people from St. Louis. The support through this 10 years was very awesome.”

Whatever led to Tarasenko requesting a trade from the Blues over the summer is in the past now. Following two seasons where shoulder issues limited him to only 34 regular season games, the 29-year-old forward has looked like his old self early on with three goals and six points in five games.

If there were any questions about three shoulder surgeries affecting him this season, Tarasenko has put them to bed so far. His first goal Monday night was an electric moment to open the scoring in the third period.

“That’s just an unbelievable move… vintage ‘Vladi,'” said linemate Robert Thomas. “He’s a player that can make those moves and you guys have seen it over the years, and I mean it was a beauty. It’s a ton of fun skating up the ice behind him, watching him make some magic. Big goal for the team and big goal for him.”

“He’s been getting a lot of opportunities to score and they haven’t gone in like he wants,” said Blues head coach Craig Berube. “We want him to score too, and it was really good to see, and getting the second one was a big goal.”

“I mean, sometimes you need to try something, not just shoot the puck,” Tarasenko said of his deke around LA defenseman Mikey Anderson. “Good thing it worked out.”

Tarasenko has not been shy about letting it rip. Through five game he has 26 shots on goal, and the opportunities have been coming in prime scoring areas.

Via Icy Data

Blues are rolling

This is the first time the Blues have won five straight to open a season. Tarasenko is healthy and producing. David Perron is picking up where he left off last season. Jordan Kyrou is breaking out. The goaltending is coming up big. Everything is clicking right now.

Tarasenko’s play is a huge factor in St. Louis’ early-season success. After missing so many games the last two seasons he’s happy to be healthy and back out on the ice contributing to a winning team.

We don’t know if Tarasenko rescinded his trade request and if his long-term future will be in St. Louis. He said at the start of training camp he was “here to work” and that his wanting out was “all behind.” Being a distraction was not something he wanted to have happened and he was supported by his teammates and head coach.

What Tarasenko saw and heard as he looked around the rink after Monday’s win was an appreciation for what he’s brought to the franchise, which includes his role in the 2018-19 Stanley Cup title. It’s those moments that are never forgotten by fans.

“Things come out and players are unhappy at times,” said Berube. “In the end, he’s here, he’s playing for the Blues, he wants to be here, we need him to perform at a high level, and he is. The fans are going to cheer for him.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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