HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The day after Vladimir Tarasenko scored his first NHL hat trick, the St. Louis Blues held an optional skate. More times than not, top-end players in particular typically are inclined take advantage of an off day.
If it weren't for Alexander Steen stepping onto the ice at the Blues' practice facility that day, Tarasenko would have been first on the ice. Continuous improvement is what matters to the right wing most.
It wasn't just another workout for Tarasenko, who in a 4-3 win against the Dallas Stars last Tuesday became the first Blues player to score a hat trick on an overtime goal since Brett Hull did it Oct. 9, 1997. Tarasenko was spending time improving his craft by shooting pucks -- lots of them. Wrist shot after wrist shot, snapping off a plethora of pucks. It's what turns good shooters into great shooters.