Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that St. Louis Blues star forward Vladimir Tarasenko just had shoulder surgery and will miss at least five months. But judging by the fact that you clicked on this article, what you don’t know is how good the Blues are without him. Can they make the playoffs? Can they make a deep playoff run? And the question on everyone’s mind: can they repeat as Stanley Cup Champions? Let’s take a closer look.
How Have the Blues Done Without Vladimir Tarasenko?
Vladimir Tarasenko only played 4:37 against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 24. He’s missed three full games since then. In those four games, the Blues are 3-1. The Blues are currently in third place in the Central Division. If they keep up that pace, they will be sure to make the playoffs. In those four games, the Blues have scored 12 goals, an average of three goals per game. In two of those games, the Blues scored five goals, in another, they scored two and in the fourth game, they were shutout. An average of three goals a game is okay. It’ll win you a decent amount of games, but not as many as you would with Tarasenko’s contributions.
Tarasenko’s Cannot Be Replaced By Someone With Less Experience
The fact of the matter is that no one is going to replace Tarasenko’s production, no one the Blues have now anyway. Last season, Tarasenko had 68 points in 76 games, almost equaling out to a point a game average. He’s put up similar numbers his entire career. The Blues have been rotating people in and out of his spot on the top line with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn. Sammy Blais, Robert Thomas, and Oskar Sundqvist have all seen the top line since Tarasenko got injured. The three of them combined put up 68 points in 176 combined games played last season.
Of course, anyone of them could improve and they are certainly likely to put up more points if they feed the puck to Schwartz and Schenn. It’s an okay solution, but it’s not a permanent one or one that could last until at least the end of March. What if someone else gets injured? God forbid another one of the Blues top-scorers. The Blues should try to make a trade if they want to guarantee a spot in the playoffs.
The Central Division is Filled With Injuries
Of course, it helps that other teams in the Central Division are also falling apart. The Colorado Avalanche, who are in first place in the Central, are without Gabriel Landeskog indefinitely. Mikko Rantanen is week-to-week and Colin Wilson is day-to-day. The Winnipeg Jets are without Dustin Byfuglien, who had surgery to repair a high ankle sprain and will be out until at least January. Bryan Little, Nathan Beaulieu, and Patrik Laine are day-to-day. Adam Lowry is suspended, Mason Appleton and Mark Letestu are out indefinitely. The Dallas Stars are missing a few players too. Andrej Sekera, Blake Comeau, Martin Hanzal, and Stephen Johns are day-to-day and Roman Polak is out indefinitely.
How Can the Blues Do Without Vladimir Tarasenko?
So, to answer the questions posed earlier, yes, the Blues can make the playoffs if they keep up their scoring pace. The Blues might even be able to make a deep playoff run if everyone steps up to try to fill in the Vladimir Tarasenko-sized hole in the Blues offense. Tarasenko should even be back by then, but who knows if he’ll be able to produce as much as he did last season: 17 points in 26 playoff games. There’s always a chance the Blues could repeat. After all, stranger things have happened. However, the first battle is making the playoffs with Tarasenko and that will keep getting more challenging as the season goes on.