2. Vladimir Tarasenko’s Incredible Showcase
While he’s had his fair share of slumps–including one that he’d been in for the better part of two weeks heading into Monday’s matchup–Vladimir Tarasenko has done more than enough over the past four seasons to convince the Blues’ fan base that he’s among the NHL’s elite. While a large chunk of the NHL’s hardcore national fan base has also already realized just how good Tarasenko is, the casual group of followers obviously hasn’t been turned on to his greatness to the point where they consistently mention him among the likes of guys like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Connor McDavid.
Monday’s nationally-televised event may have helped him out in that area, however. The 25-year-old winger absolutely took over the game over its final period. After two great efforts that went for naught–a wrister on a breakaway that went off of Corey Crawford’s leg padding, then a shot on the power play that went off the Blackhawks’ goal post–Tarasenko converted on two great opportunities over the game’s final eight minutes.
The winger crossed up Crawford in front of the net, causing Niklas Hjalmarsson to put the puck into his own net amid all the havoc, giving the Blues the lead with just under eight minutes left on the clock. A minute and 53 seconds later, he flicked a wrist shot past Crawford from the left side to give the Blues an insurance goal.
Tarasenko’s still not back on pace to match his 40 goals from last season, but Monday was a great reminder of why he’s one of the most dynamic players in the NHL today.