This is not a good sign if you are a fan of t he St. Louis Blues.
Through the first 2 games of the Western Conference Final St. Louis Blues star forward Vladimir Tarasenko has largely been a ghost in the series thus far and naturally that has been a big concern for the St. Louis Blues. This is not just some media spin either, St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube publicly challenged his star player after another uninspired performance and this is a big deal if you know anything about Tarasenko's personality.
“Vladi has to work without the puck a lot harder, and he will,” Blues coach Craig Berube said Sunday. as per The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford “He’s got to get more involved. You can’t just wait for things to happen, especially in the playoffs. You’ve got to go get it, you’ve got to go make it yourself. It’s about working, and it’s about working with your line. I’ll stress it again, we need three guys around the puck.”
That is all well and good and no doubt this is merely Berube attempting to motivate his player by calling him out publicly. However Rutherford also got quotes from other high ranking National Hockey League executives in the Western Conference, and they expressed concerns over the slumps that Tarasenko often finds himself in. In the end he obtained quotes from two current coaches and one current general manager and all of them had very interesting things to say.
Now you might be quick to suggest that Western Conference rivals would be quick to kick the Blues while they are down, however the anonymous general manager was quick to heap praise on another Blues player, Ryan O'Reilly, while criticizing Tarasenko.
“I’ve always said, when I look at those types of players, when their work ethic matches their talent, look out,” he said. “But they’re an enigma a lot of nights because how do you know what they’re going to do? You don’t know. Take a guy like O’Reilly; even on the bad nights when things aren’t going his way, he contributes something to the game. That’s in his DNA.
“Tarasenko is obviously a great player. But what happens, I find, is that when you go in a locker room like San Jose, he’s a name that’s circled. You’ve got to play him hard and you’ve got to make his life tough. That’s just normal. They’re going to get played harder, and they have to find a way to play through that.”
Of course a ton of the credit also has to go to the San Jose Sharks for effectively shutting him down, but when you are a star level player the expectation is that you will rise above that and perform. Tarasenko has played over 217 minutes of ice time and has just a single goal at 5 on 5 thus far, at the end of the day that is simply just not good enough.