Found April 23, 2014 on Fox Sports Midwest:
CHICAGO -- The hand injury that caused Vladimir Tarasenko to miss the final 15 games of the regular season hasn't slowed him down one bit in his first extended opportunity in the NHL playoffs. The Blues' winger got a glimpse of the postseason as a rookie a year ago when he played just five minutes, 51 seconds in Game 4 of the Western Conference first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings. Now, the Russian will go into Game 4 of the Blues' first-round series against the Blackhawks as an impact player; blossoming on the big stage of the NHL playoffs as well as a pivotal piece of St. Louis' present and future. "He's such a smart player," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "(He's) 22 years old. You imagine what he's going to be like as a 25- or 26-year-old. He's such a smart player; he's got composure where most people just panic like crazy." Tarasenko proved that in the final seconds of Game 2. With the Blues trailing 3-2 and emotions running high after captain David Backes left the game after the dirty hit by Brent Seabrook, Tarasenko calmly ringed a wrister off the right post from beyond the right circle for a game-tying power-play goal with 6.4 seconds remaining.   The goal sent the game into overtime and Barret Jackman's game-winner gave the Blues a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series. Now, after the Blackhawks took Game 3 with a 2-0 win, the Russian Olympian's late-game heroics loom even larger as the difference so far. "They felt like we got away with one in Game 2 and they got away with one in Game 3, so 2-1 for either team is probably where the series should be at," Hitchcock said on Tuesday. "They said it best today when they felt like (Corey) Crawford was the difference for them and a timely goal or two was the difference for us in Game 2. It is what it is, but it's who's going to move forward from here? Because we still have home ice advantage, which we're going to obviously need, but we've got to take advantage of it by playing better. And (playing) better in a few elements of our game will give us a better chance to win the hockey game because I thought we had them had them pushed pretty hard yesterday early and late, but not in the middle where we needed to build some more momentum." The Blues will be counting on contributions from their young Russian, who had a personal four-game goal streak snapped with the Game 3 shutout. Of course, the first two of those tallies came before suffering a broken bone in his hand March 15. The next two came in Games 1 and 2 of this series, when he announced his presence with authority. Yes, NHL, Vova's back and arguably better than ever. "(He) looks like the same player," Hitchcock said following the team's morning skate. "He probably would have been a 35-goal scorer if he would have finished the year healthy, but he's right where he was when he left. He's right up to speed. ... I said this before at the start of the playoffs, he did a great job in getting himself getting ready to play. His fitness level, he was on the ice for long, long days and long, long hours. He did a great job in getting himself fit to play." When he declared Tarasenko fit to play last week, Hitchcock said the forward's rehab work included six to seven hours a day at the rink, including two to two and a half hours on the ice, mostly by himself, trying to do everything he could to push himself to be ready for his return. "He did a lot of hard work when he was hurt and kept his legs in shape and that's probably why he's been able to play at the level he is right now," Jaden Schwartz said. "We definitely missed him when he was out and it's nice to see him back so early." Initially feared out for six weeks, Tarasenko returned in a month. And he returned looking like the same player as when he left. In 64 regular season games, he racked up 43 points (21 goals, 22 assists) and a plus-minus rating of plus-20 that tied for third-best on the club. The Blues are now 46-14-7 with Tarasenko this season, including playoffs. "He's been playing great," Alexander Steen said before Game 3. "He's been hungry. I know he's been waiting, dying, to get back into the lineup. And now that he's in, he's showing how hungry he is. He's played great. ... He's played a couple incredible games and our focus is to try to keep him playing the way he is." The Blues will go into Game 4 with the return of Backes still uncertain and with the Blackhawks gaining confidence as a result of their Game 3 victory, giving Tarasenko another opportunity to step up on the big stage and show the rest of the hockey world what he's made of. You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at

Berglund's return softens the blow of Backes' absence

CHICAGO -- The St. Louis Blues won't have captain David Backes in the lineup for Game 3 against the Blackhawks tonight, but they will get center Patrik Berglund back. "Berglund's in, he's playing," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said following the team's skate Monday morning. "Feels good, he's ready to go." Berglund, who was centering a line with...

Blues' David Backes may return for Game 4

The possibility of getting David Backes back into the lineup has given the St. Louis Blues a reason to rejoice after they found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-0 shutout in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. According to head coach, Ken Hitchcock, this could happen as early as Game 4.Despite controlling the tempo for much of the game, the Blues ultimately fell to the surging...

T.J. Oshie one of the NHL’s most-Googled players

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Blues must start converting more power-play chances

CHICAGO -- Through the first three games of their Western Conference first-round playoff series, the St. Louis Blues' penalty kill has been exactly what they need it to be, killing off 13 of 14 Blackhawks power-play opportunities. Unfortunately for the Blues, Chicago's penalty kill has been just as effective -- which means their power play has fizzled. The Blues ranked eighth...

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David Backes' health status remains in question

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Report: David Backes May Play Game 4

Reports from St. Louis media on Wednesday morning are that Blues captain David Backes may return to the lineup for Game 4 at the United Center. Derek Roy returned to practice early Wednesday afternoon, but Backes was absent from the game … Continue reading →The post Report: David Backes May Play Game 4 appeared first on Committed Indians.

Video: Ryan Miller allows soft goal in Game 3

The loss in Game 3 was a team effort. Ryan Miller allowed the soft goal above, but he made several big saves which could have pushed the score even higher. Meanwhile, the Blues struggled to put pucks on frame despite controlling the play for nearly the whole third period. Letting this one in was bad, but fans shouldn’t be too hasty in pinning this loss on Miller.

St. Louis Blues injury updates: Who's in and out for game three

The St. Louis are in a weird position of being injured and healthy all at the same time. They enter tonight's game with a 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks, and play their first road game of the playoffs tonight.Captain David Backes will not play in tonight's game due to an upper body injury that he suffered after being hit from behind by Brent Seabrook. It'...

Berglund in, Backes out for Game 3

Good news and bad news. The good? Patrik Berglund returns tonight for Game 3. The bad? As most of us expected, David Backes will not be playing thanks to a certain hit from a certain dirty Blackhawks’ defenseman. Hitch confirms Berglund is in tonight. — Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) April 21, 2014 Hitch says Backes is out and won't play tonight. #stlblues — Jeremy...

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CHICAGO -- It was quickly approaching midnight in the Windy City and 'Chelsea Dagger' was still blaring out of the speakers at the United Center, the sound no opposing team wants to hear. Blues goalie Ryan Miller sat quietly at his locker stall in the visiting dressing room, staring into space as his teammates dressed and the media swarmed in to ask what happened, where it...

Seabrook Should Be Out As Long As Backes

Chicago Blackhawk's defenceman Brent Seabrook's attempt to take off the head of St. Louis Blues captain David Backes at the end of Game 2 is an event that continues to reverberate, even though we are through Game 3 and the Blues are up 2-1 in the series.  Much has been made of the loss to the Blackhawks of a key defenceman for three games, however not much about how the...

NBC Sports app confuses the Blues with the Wild

The belief that the Blues don’t receive the respect or the attention they deserve has been shared by fans for ages. Listen to a broadcast on NBC and you’ll hear praises for Chicago and butchered St. Louis names. It’s almost impossible to stomach. It turns out that the NBC Sports Live Extra app doesn’t have too much respect for the Minnesota Wild either. As seen in this photo...

Video: Steve Ott crushes Duncan Keith

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