Tarasenko draws rave reviews;
Edmundson, Caron recalled, Lindbohm reassigned
By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- When it comes to right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, a slew of adjectives can come to mind describing the Blues' go-to goal scorer.
But Tarasenko, who has a goal in a career-best five straight games, seven of the past eight, and 14 points (eight goals, six assists) the past 11 games, drew high praise from Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley after Tarasenko had a hand in all three goals for the Blues in a 3-2 win with a goal and two assists, his second three-point game in three games.
"This guy right now, I think he's the most complete hockey player in this league," Hartley said. "I like the way that he scores, that he goes on offense, the way that he's committed to team defense, the way that he takes the body on forecheck, and it looks like he's pretty impressive."
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Calgary coach Bob Hartley calls Blues right wing Vladimir
Tarasenko (91) the most complete hockey player in the league.
Tarasenko, who is second in the NHL with 21 goals (one behind Dallas' Jamie Benn), has a penchant for scoring a timely or big goal. But what's really caught the eye of coach Ken Hitchcock recently is beyond the offense.
"The measuring stick for Tarasenko is, the goals or whatever, they'll take care of themselves. I think the measuring stick is on the PK," Hitchcock said of the penalty kill. "His attention to detail is better, he's a threat killing penalties, he's dangerous, he makes people nervous.
"If you watch him when he's killing penalties, it's never in our zone or not in there very long because people are nervous playing against him. But his attention to detail there has helped to be a better player. He's not just a guy looking to score, he's looking to play. There's a big difference. I think it pops up in penalty killing."
Teams are more and more using impact players in all roles, including special teams, and particularly, the penalty kill. That constant threat whether a man up or a man down to go with playing even strength creates more opportunities to make a difference in a game.
But when Tarasenko scored Saturday afternoon, he momentarily led the league before Benn scored twice Saturday night. This is the kind of impact he will have for the Blues (20-10-4) moving forward.
"I think it’s pushing you to move forward," said Tarasenko, who is on pace to score 52 goals and who first and foremost always gives credit to his teammates. "I think this shows you you can play with these guys and you can score these goals. It’s a team game. My teammates make it for me. I just need to score more because I have really a lot of goal chances. So you can’t stop working and relaxing because it’s only Dec. 20 and we have a tough time coming after Christmas. We have time to rest now in last couple of games. We will try to make our fans happy before the holidays."
Should Tarasenko reach 50 goal he would be the the first since Brendan Shanahan (1994) and join Shanahan, Brett Hull (five times from 1989-94) and Waybe Babych (1981).
When it comes to comparing him to a particular player from the past, Hitchcock, who's seen plenty a player in his 19th season coaching, has someone in mind.
"A little bit like Bossy," Hitchcock said of New York Islanders Hall of Famer Mike Bossy, who had nine consecutive 50-plus goal seasons, including five at 60-plus. "Bossy never got credit for how strong he was on the puck, same release, same snapshot. 'Boss' was a lot stronger on the puck than people thought. Vladi's a big, heavy player, but Bossy had a guy like (Bryan) Trottier who could control the tempo of the game and then he would get loose and score all the time. He reminds me a lot of when Bossy was in his prime."
By the way, Bossy finished with 573 goals in a short 10-year career that included four Stanley Cup titles.
* Edmundson, Caron recalled, Lindbohm reassigned to AHL -- The Blues made some roster moved before heading off Sunday for a quick two-game trip to Philadelphia and Boston.
The team recalled defenseman Joel Edmundson and forward Jordan Caron from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League and reassigned defenseman Petteri Lindbohm.
Caron was signed as a free agent last summer to add depth at the AHL level and has experience with the Boston Bruins (134 games) and Colorado Avalanche (19 games).
The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Caron, 25, has 12 goals and 28 points in 153 NHL games; he had eight goals and 13 points in 24 games with the Wolves. His recall gives the Blues insurance in case Kyle Brodziak (lower-body injury) is not available. Brodziak missed Saturday's game against Calgary.
Edmundson returns after he and Lindbohm flipped spots two weeks ago.
Edmundson played 23 games after making the Blues out of camp and has two assists. He played five games with the Wolves and registered no points.
Lindbohm played seven games with the Blues and started out well but saw his ice time reduced to under 14 minutes per game the past six games. He was a minus-5 combined in the last six games.
* Next up, Philadelphia -- The Blues and Flyers will get reacquainted after the two teams played in St. Louis on Dec. 10, a 4-2 Flyers victory.
The Blues, who have won three in a row, will look to match a season-high four-game winning streak accomplished Oct. 13-18.
"Feels good as a group, in the locker room, just knowing that we can string together wins," rookie defenseman Colton Parayko said. "Obviously there's going to be ups and downs throughout the season, so you can't really get upset when we do lose a few in a row or if we do lose a few in a week because that's just how it is. It's not just going to be an 82-0 season. I think it's just the way you approach every game. Right now obviously we have three in a row and that's huge for us."
The Blues, who held a limited optional skate Sunday morning at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Outlet Mall, are expected to start Jake Allen in goal.