Tarasenko back at practice, status for Saturday still up in the air but
promising; Gunnarsson makes immediate impact; playing up to the competition
ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko was back at practice Friday one day after missing his first game of the season Thursday because of illness.
Tarasenko, who has 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 37 games, missed the past two days but skated Friday during an optional that included 15 total skaters, including goalies.
"I'm feeling better now. Skate today. I feel OK," Tarasenko said. "Nice to be back at the rink."
Tarasenko wouldn't rule himself back in the lineup when the Blues close a five-game homestand against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
"We'll see tomorrow. Just sick," Tarasenko said. "Everyone home sick too so we just slept for a couple days and really, really hard time but now it's better. Nice to be back over here with the guys."
Interim coach Craig Berube was in a wait-and-see mode too.
"We'll see," he said. "We'll see how Vladi is tomorrow and stuff. He's better today. We'll wait until tomorrow and then make a decision.
"It was good he came in and wanted to go on the ice and that's a good sign, so he's obviously a little bit better."
Tarasenko was ruled out of the 5-2 win against Washington around 4 p.m. He came in during the morning and took some meds but felt it was best to stay away.
"I try in the morning and I said I don't want to put the guys in a bad spot and try to play (or) don't play," Tarasenko said. "I just thinking I better stay away from guys.
"It's been a long time missing a game, but you know it happens sometimes and I'm happy I'm good now. It's good the guys win yesterday. Good practice today and we'll see tomorrow. Hopefully I can play."
* Gunnarsson makes immediate impact -- Carl Gunnarsson's impact was felt throughout the lineup, even though the veteran defenseman played just 12 minutes 53 seconds.
Gunnarsson, who had no assists but could have easily had three, was a team-high plus-4, which also is a career-high for him, but the impact he made was with his voice as much as his stick and skating.
"Just on the bench, I thought we got ramped up a bit there and we didn't play well all game," Gunnarsson said after missing 20 games with a hand injury after starting the season on injured-reserve following surgery to repair a torn left ACL. "Just kind of tried to cool it down, don't get too stressed out. You can't panic too easily. Just try to bring that coolness and take it easy a little bit too.
"I don't get too rattled. I don't get too high, I don't get too low. I just try to stay positive on the bench. Mistakes are going to happen. You can't push that red button too quick."
It was just the eighth game for Gunnarsson, who went from a plus-2 on the season to plus-6 and is second on the team to Ryan O'Reilly's plus-7.
"Figure it out, right? It was good be back," Gunnarsson said. "That stuff's just a little bonus. It was fun.
"Just coming back to game speed I think was big. I had some long shifts, some short shifts, trying to keep it at an even level, but sometimes you get out there quicker than other shifts. I thought it was a good start."
Gunnarsson was utilized when the Blues played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen with Tarasenko out.
"The games he's played this year, he's been really good," Berube said. "Him and 'Petro' have been really good together when they play together. ... He plays a simple game, but he's a very effective player."
* Ramping up for the big teams -- As was written last night, the Blues (16-18-4) seem to get more fire in the skates when they play the top teams in the league.
Against the top seven teams in terms of points, the Blues are 8-4-1 but 8-14-3 against the rest of the league, including 1-3-2 against the bottom six (not including the Blues).
Why is that?
"Maybe mentally better preparation," Tarasenko said. "I said it before, we need to work harder on preparing for every opponent the same and maybe you know, sometimes the guys high in the standings and we just prepare. I don't know what it is, but it is like this this year and we need to change it if we want to get success."
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