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Stanley Cup Final

Blues' Tarasenko ready for NHL debut

Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:43 PM

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent / 2012-13 Opening Day blog

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2012-13 Opening Day blog
Blues' Tarasenko ready for NHL debut

ST. LOUIS -- The look in Vladimir Tarasenko's eyes said it all.

The St. Louis Blues' 2010 first-round draft pick is feeling like a kid in a candy store, excited to be realizing a dream. On the other hand, when the 21-year-old steps onto the ice for his first National Hockey League game against the Detroit Red Wings tonight (7 p.m. on FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), the nerves will be fast and furious.

"I'm very excited because this is my dream. It's a dream come true," Tarasenko said at the morning skate. "I'm a little bit nervous because this is my first game in the National Hockey League. I never thought I would get here."

Tarasenko has been a top-end player in the Kontinental Hockey League and was the 16th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. The Blues took a chance that he would one day want to play in the NHL and since his arrival they have made it a point to pair him with skill players. He will play with Andy McDonald and Alex Steen tonight, skating on an ice surface much different from what he's seen playing in the KHL, most recently for SKA St. Petersburg, where he had 31 points in 31 games this season.

"I like it. I've been here two weeks and I'm mentally ready now," Tarasenko said. "It's different play, but I like it. I have great linemates and they keep it simple for me. They help me a lot. They talk to me and show me some moments in the drills. They're really good guys and I want to help them as much as I can."

Tarasenko spent Friday night with his girlfriend, having dinner and talking about his first NHL game, which happens to be against the team he grew up idolizing as a child.

"When I was 7, Detroit was my favorite team," Tarasenko said. "In Russia, everyone liked Detroit. But now my favorite team is the Blues."

Quote of the Day

It's about enjoying the moment. It's pretty cool to get that many people together and that excited about hockey to the point they really want you to mess up. They've got a ton of red jerseys and you have to sit back and appreciate people love hockey that much and you are the one out there who gets to play the game. Just try and stick with that respect for the game and also the mentality that for me it's just about entering the fight and seeing how long I can stay in it.

— Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller on what he expects from the fans in Calgary for Game 6