Blues out to protect Tarasenko

Blues out to protect Tarasenko

Credit: Getty Images

Blues out to protect Tarasenko


by Scott Bierman / HockeyStL

Posted on January 20, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 7 at 6:43 PM

(HockeyStL) -- There was a certain buzz surrounding Vladimir Tarasenko when he was drafted 16th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft.  That buzz grew louder when the start of training camp opened on Sunday. 

He was getting closer.

Six days later that buzz became one of the loudest roars in the history of the St. Louis Blues when he scored his first career NHL goal six minutes and 36 seconds into the first period -- and then scored again 29 seconds into the second period. Click here to watch first goal | Second goal

He’s here, St. Louis.

The promising Russian forward made his presence known in each of his 22 shifts and made the most of the 13 minutes and 52 seconds he played.  Afterwards, he was grateful for the opportunity.

“I was nervous before the game, but now I’m happy.  I want to say thanks for my teammates today.  They really help me,” Tarasenko said after the 6-0 win against the Red Wings.

Although he doesn’t know English quite well yet, his teammates let it be known how excited they were for him.

“It was great.  I felt like it was my first goal,” T.J. Oshie said.

Alex Pietrangelo couldn’t think of a better way to start the season than a goal from the newest St. Louis fan favorite.

And the praise didn’t stop with his teammates.  Ken Hitchcock was impressed but more with the way he handles himself off the ice.

“He’s a good kid that wants to learn, wants to be part of a team, wants to be part of a line.  That’s what really impresses me about him,” Hitchcock said.  “He’s a really good kid and he just wants to be part of this team.  He wants to please the veteran players.”

It’s also a reason he is on a line with Andy McDonald and Alex Steen, two players who know the NHL very well.

“They’re going to nurture him,” Hitchcock said of McDonald and Steen.  “He’s playing against players like (Jordin) Tootoo today.  He doesn’t even know who (Tootoo) is and they’re working with him on the bench warning him and stuff like that.  Those are things that I think he is willing to learn.”

Tootoo, a notorious troublemaker on the ice, did make one attempt at hitting the Blues’ promising young star during the third period of the blowout.  Tootoo appeared to lunge high towards Tarasenko behind the Blues goal, but missed and slammed hard into the boards instead.

The attempt was seen by Roman Polak, who was near the almost painful hit.  Polak skated alongside Tootoo as the play resumed towards the Red Wings zone and appeared to let him know about his displeasure with attempted hit on Tarasenko.  After the whistle blew it appeared the two were interested in dropping the gloves, but didn’t as the referees intervened.

Tootoo received a ten-minute misconduct for the incident.

Let this be a sign that the Blues won’t settle for those who target Tarasenko and after his performance on Saturday, the entire NHL may be on alert after the dominating 6-0 victory against the Red Wings.