The St. Louis Blues found out during the announcement of the 2018 All-Star Teams that they would be well represented. It was just the name that was left off the list that was a definite shock.
The St. Louis Blues pretty much had Vladimir Tarasenko penned in as spending the last weekend of January at the All-Star festivities. He has been widely regarded as the team’s best player for a long time now.
On Wednesday, the team and the player himself found out that he’ll be spending All-Star Weekend at home, resting. Shockingly, it has nothing to do with an injury. He was literally left off the team.
The players that will be representing the Blues at the All-Star Game will be Brayden Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo. Given their consistent body of work over the course of this season, they are the correct choices. That still doesn’t sooth the sting of not having Tarasenko there.
Here’s a look at who made the cut according to Sporting News and other publications:
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche
Brayden Schenn, Blues
Tyler Seguin, Stars
Eric Staal, Wild
Blake Wheeler, Jets
P.K. Subban, Predators
John Klingberg, Stars
Alex Pietrangelo, Blues
Connor Hellebuyck, Jets
Pekka Rinne, Predators
Tarasenko’s problem is he went cold during the big push for the All-Star game. He has three goals and six points in his last five games, entering one of his patented hot streaks.
That has put him in a tie for the team lead in points, with Schenn, having scored 44. Tarasenko now leads the team in goals, but that is something that had not been the case since the first few weeks of the season.
However, it all comes down to timing. Schenn got a lot of eyeballs on him for his hot start and his consistent play. He’s gone somewhat quiet since the injury to Jaden Schwartz, but has still been one of the team’s best.
Pietrangelo is also deserving. Until his injury, which derailed him a little bit, he was one of, if not the leading Norris Trohpy candidate. Despite a defensive lapse from the entire team over the last few weeks, he is still one of the best defenders in the division.
Sadly, one of the main reasons Tarasenko got held off is this new format. Each divisional team has to have a representative and there are less players required for selection for each team.
If you had to pick a player that Tarasenko should replace, the most likely candidate would be Eric Staal. He’s having a good season, with 19 goals himself, but is not necessarily the kind of flashy player you’d like to have at this kind of game.
Even Brandon Schlager of The Sporting News took issue with this snub.
“The Vladimir Tarasenko snub came down to choosing between him and Schenn, but it shouldn’t have… In his place we get Eric Staal, who’s having another fine season, but he’s no Tarasenko.
Adding to the shock of this snub is the fact that Tarasenko finished in second place in the fan voting for the captain. It seems a shame to let the second most popular player in the division and one of its most talented sit at home. That is how the cookie crumbles, as they say.
If they were using a regular East vs. West format or even North America vs. the World, there seems little doubt Tarasenko would be on those rosters. Maybe he gets snubbed from East vs. West, but that seems unlikely.
For now, fans can take solace in the fact their biggest star will get to rest. There will be no worries about post-All-Star fatigue like you get with the Home Run Derby.
If nothing else, maybe we can hope this gives him a chip on his shoulder. A motivated Tarasenko could be an extremely dangerous weapon in the second half of the season.