The World Cup of Hockey is just over a week away from officially starting. The exhibition games are already impacting the St. Louis Blues players.
The World Cup is an exciting event, whether it is the more traditional use of the phrase coupled with soccer or the revamped tournament to represent international hockey. The St. Louis Blues are hoping it all goes smoothly and nothing but positives come out of it.
Leading up to the tournament, it’s already a mixed bag as far as the Blues are concerned.
Exhibition games have already begun around the globe to get teams warmed up for this tournament that starts on September 17. There was some good, some bad and some ugly involved from a St. Louis perspective.
On the good side, we knew Vladimir Tarasenko was good. He’s letting people know on an international stage now.
For some unknown reason, the Czechs failed to close the gap on Tarasenko and he made them pay. The wicked wrister snapped over the goaltender’s blocker/shoulder and he didn’t have a prayer of stopping it.
Beyond just the beauty of the goal, it lets us know that he’s in prime shooting mode before the NHL season even begins. With the lackluster playoffs he had, that can only be a good thing.
Now, there’s no reason to project one goal in an exhibition into a season of success, but it doesn’t mean anything bad. A sharp Tarasenko now can only mean good things.
On the bad side, Team North America left Colton Parayko out of their lineup for their exhibition against Team Europe. While this isn’t completely note worthy, it would be disheartening if that carries over into the tournament.
The broadcast team on ESPN even brought it up during the game. Kevin Weeks was particularly surprised as he brought up how good of a playoffs Parayko had during the Blues run to the conference finals.
If Parayko does not play, it is one less thing to worry about regarding potential injuries. However, it would be disappointing to see a player we are all excited about left out and he would have to be down about it as well.
Sobotka was hit by one of the Russian defensemen and was feared to have a clavicle injury. Fortunately, team sources seem to say that is not the case and Sobotka may actually be available for Saturday’s game.
The will he, won’t he saga isn’t quite over. However, with the Russian season already begun and Sobotka (barring further injury) to be in Toronto for this tournament, it seems unlikely for him not to stay and play in the NHL.
With that in mind, the Blues need him to come through this tournament healthy. It doesn’t matter how highly you regard him, the team has him in their plans and will seem a bit shorthanded if he can’t play.
There’s still plenty of reason to be excited for the World Cup. However, like its soccer counterpart, there is always trepidation regarding player safety with these tournaments.
If players can come through healthy and use it as a spring board for a good camp and season start then it’s fantastic. We’ve got a mixed bag already and the actual tournament hasn’t even started. Keep your fingers crossed people.