Liam McHugh

Tarasenko fully recovered from shoulder surgery

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Vladimir Tarasenko was close to returning to action prior to the NHL Pause and is ready to play if the 2019-20 season resumes.

The Russian winger required surgery on his left shoulder after sustaining an injury in a 5-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings in late October. No. 91 had three goals and seven assists in the 10 games he played this season.

“He was ready to go,” Blues coach Craig Berube told NBC’s Liam McHugh. “Before we got shut down, he was probably going to be back that week. He did a great job of rehab and taking care of himself. I was really impressed with what he did.”

[RELATED: NHL Power Rankings: The most impressive single season stats]

The Blues currently sit atop the Central Division and Western Conference with a slim two-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche.

“These guys are great athletes. I would say a good week of skating and conditioning work. I think they would probably be in good enough shape to get going again,” Berube said when asked how long it would take his team to get ready after the pause. “It’s probably not enough time but we will be able to do it.”

“We all try to keep in contact,” Berube added. “Our strength coach will send them workouts and things they could do at home. … It’s all about staying healthy and staying in the best shape that you can.”

The Blues hope they will get the opportunity to defend their title and if that comes to fruition, Tarasenko will be in the lineup.

Follow this NBC News live update thread for more on the coronavirus pandemic.


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Video: Why the Buffalo Sabres are a threat in the East

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Before the season started, the Buffalo Sabres were earning buzz for all the money owner Terry Pegula invested in the team. Adding high-priced free agents like Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff gets a team noticed in the offseason, but through the team’s first two games it’s their scorers getting it done.

Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville lead the way while getting help from surprise players like Luke Adam help make the Sabres a threat in the Eastern Conference. Ryan Miller isn’t so bad in goal either. Coach Lindy Ruff has been a constant in Buffalo all these years and he very well might have his best team yet this season.

The Versus crew of Liam McHugh, Mike Milbury, and Keith Jones break down what makes the Sabres tick this season.

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Video: Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick preview Game 7 of Eastern Conference finals

After last night’s Game 6 in Tampa, the Lightning and Bruins are set to play what should be a memorable Game 7 in Boston at 8 p.m. on Versus Friday night.

After what turned out to be a dud of a goaltending battle between Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson in Game 6, both teams will need to tighten things up defensively, the Bruins in particular. After giving up three power play goals in four chances, the Bruins defense and penalty kill units have some questions to answer for themselves. For three games in a row the Bruins PK shut things down nicely to frustrate the Lightning. Tampa’s effort to statistically correct things for themselves stunned Boston. They’ll need more of that in Game 7 if they want to make their first Stanley Cup finals since 2004.

If the Bruins are going to make their first finals since 1990 they’ll need to get back to “Bruins hockey” which means tough defense, great goaltending by Thomas, and getting the first goal of the game. Fast starts have helped the Bruins settle things down early and at home with the fans roaring behind them, getting ahead to start would help give Boston the edge with the fans getting even louder.

Versus’ Liam McHugh asks Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick what both teams will need to do to clinch their spot in the Stanley Cup finals.

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Video: Keith Jones and Mike Milbury preview Game 6 between Boston and Tampa Bay

Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals is set to go down tonight on Versus at 8 p.m. ET and for the Boston Bruins they’re looking to lock down their first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals since 1990. Tampa Bay has other ideas though and they’d like to send it to a winner-take-all Game 7 back in Boston.

For Tampa Bay, they’ll have Dwayne Roloson back in goal tonight after getting a breather for Game 5. Will a little bit of extra rest be enough to have the 41 year-old overcome the play of Boston’s Tim Thomas in goal though? He’ll need to be extremely tough to help the Lightning hang tight with the Bruins there.

Versus host Liam McHugh picks the brains of both Keith Jones and Mike Milbury to find out what they think the keys to tonight’s Game 6 are for both Tampa Bay and Boston.

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Video: Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury preview Game 5 between Boston and Tampa Bay

Today brings us Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Bruins and Lightning and for Tampa Bay it presents the chance to send Boston reeling. After all, it was the Bruins who blew a 3-0 lead in Game 4 only to lose 5-3 after coming unglued in the second period and unable to recover.

If Tampa Bay can take the Bruins out in Game 5 tonight, they’ll put the Bruins on the brink of being knocked out of the playoffs and put themselves into the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 2004. Writing that sentence and saying that out loud is a lot easier than actually doing it though, but the Lightning do have a tremendous opportunity to follow up on what they started in Game 4. With the Lightning getting great supporting play from the likes of Teddy Purcell and Sean Bergenheim, they’re giving the Bruins fits in trying to keep up with all of them.

Boston needs to find that killer stroke and the motivation that they had for the first 20 minutes of Game 4 and all of Game 3. Somewhere along the line in Game 4 they lost their way, much in part to Tampa Bay counter-punching them and never letting up in what they were doing. Boston’s shown the ability to fight back, but it disappeared in the final 40 minutes. While Patrice Bergeron brought his “A” game on Saturday, the Bruins first line of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, and David Krejci were useless. Tomas Kaberle wasn’t so hot himself.

NBC’s Liam McHugh asks Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury what they think needs to happen in Game 5 for both of these teams to come away with a 3-2 series lead once the night is through.

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