By Patrick Kelly
After being scratched for two straight games after being deemed “unfit to play,” the St. Louis Blues announced on Tuesday that Vladimir Tarasenko was leaving the bubble in Edmonton to return home to get his left shoulder evaluated. Tarasenko originally injured his shoulder in October against the Los Angeles Kings and missed 61 games while recovering from surgery.
Tarasenko had been hoping to return before the pandemic and like the rest of sports was forced to sit out for several months. Since returning for the postseason, he has shown bits of his true self but has still been a non-factor most of the time with 10 shots over the span of four games and minus-1.
During media availability on Zoom Tuesday, Blues head coach Craig Berube said, “Yeah it’s concerning … But we don’t know a lot yet. So I’m not gonna jump to conclusions on anything. Listen, he’s not feeling right, so he’s going to get it looked at. So I don’t know what to tell you to be honest. It is concerning but we gotta wait and see.”
This casts a shadow over the Blues, who are coming off two incredible games to even the first-round series with the Vancouver Canucks at two.
However, the Blues have shown this season and in the playoffs that they are more than capable of still producing even without their top goal scorer. David Perron has made a big step forward while taking a larger role offensively and capitalizing with big goals at clutch moments. The Blues are also an extremely deep team offensively and Tarasenko being out has meant more ice time for players like Robert Thomas, Sammy Blais and Jordan Kyrou who have been playing much better as the series has progressed. Losing Tarasenko is a big blow to the Blues and could be even bigger pending his evaluation, but this is a next man up kind of team and they seem to have countless amounts of players that can step into important roles at key times.