St. Louis Blues: Team Success Still Depends On Vladimir Tarasenko

St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91)Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91)Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues have a roster that can win in 2021 right now. Team success is still higher if the team’s best scoring winger can return.

One thing sports fans, including St. Louis Blues fans, are good at is forgetting how important a player can be. When someone gets injured, the naysayers come out of the woodwork talking all sorts of nonsense about how the team never needed them and, in some cases, are better off without them.

That is basically the case with Vladimir Tarasenko right now. While Tarasenko has always had a small group of fans that weren’t on his side due to some consistency issues, that group seems to have gained in size now that his shoulder has become a problem.

It has to be said that a player coming back 100% from two shoulder surgeries is not the best. That does not diminish what the Blues are missing without Tarasenko.

We forget that besides Alex Ovechkin, Tarasenko was the most consistent goal scorer in the NHL over the last few years. Tarasenko did not get to 40 or 50 goals like we expected him to, but he never had the dip in scoring that even some of the elite players have.

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When you couple his injury with the acquisition of Mike Hoffman, Blues fans are currently willing to forget Tarasenko. That’s a mistake because his return would really make this team a threat.

That is not to say the Blues are incapable of winning another Stanley Cup without Tarasenko. They had success in 2019-20 without him, prior to the shutdown of the season.

However, imagine how hard this team would be to defend if you have two legitimate scoring wingers. Take no credit away from guys like David Perron or Jaden Schwartz, but they have skill more than a pure shot.

Hoffman and Tarasenko are shooters, pure and simple. They don’t need to make a bunch of fancy moves or be set up all the time by a great playmaker. They can shoot their way to goals.

We hope that Jordan Kyrou might fit that mold someday, but he’s more likely to be a Perron type. So, the Blues would be that much better if Tarsenko gets healthy and they can really spread out their scoring.

If you can get Tarasenko healthy, imagine the kind of depth you have if you can put a player like Schwartz, Hoffman or Tarasenko on your third line. As long as you can limit the grumbles over playing time, that’s a lot of diversity of talent over your top nine.

It is possible for the Blues to win without Tarasenko. It is not as though he is the difference between a Stanley Cup and not making the playoffs.

However, a healthy Tarasenko, even a third-line Tarasenko, can be the difference between finishing at the top of the division and being a favorite to win the Cup or finishing third in the division and people wondering if you’ll make it out of the first round. The Blues are still a contender either way, but it makes a big difference.

Predicting the Blues opening night lines. dark. Next

Of course, we have no way of knowing whether Tarasenko can return. His shoulder might never be the same and the Blues will have to figure things out from there.

If he can come back, the Blues will be that much better off.