ST. LOUIS - Kevin Shattenkirk and Vladimir Tarasenko became close friends during the 2012-13 season. They had a lot in common, including being new to the Blues. Shattenkirk was traded to St. Louis from Colorado in 2011, while Tarasenko joined from the KHL in 2012.
Back in those early days, they were roommates on the road, too.
Now they have something else in common: they’re both headed to the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.
“It means a lot. This is an opportunity to not only showcase your talent, but also to showcase your city and the pride that comes with playing for the St. Louis Blues,” Shattenkirk said. “We have a lot of great players here, and because we’re a smaller market, people might not realize that. It’s up to me and Vladi to really show what we have here, and I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
The festivities begin with the Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, Jan. 24 (6 p.m. CT on NBCSN) and conclude with the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 25 (4 p.m. CT on NBCSN).
“I’m really excited,” Tarasenko said. “I’m really happy for Kevin to be there, too, with me. We're really good friends. I want to say thanks for the support and the help from my teammates and the fans and everybody here. I’m really proud to be there.”
This marks the first NHL All-Star appearance for both players.
Shattenkirk, 25, becomes the first Blues defenseman to be selected for an NHL All-Star Game since Chris Pronger represented the Blues in 2004. This season, Shattenkirk shares the League lead among defenseman with 36 points (seven goals, 29 assists) and a +18 rating, while he leads all players with 23 power-play points. The New Rochelle, NY native is averaging 23:04 minutes per game this season.
Tarasenko, 23, ranks third overall in the League with 22 goals and is eighth with 43 points, while his +21 rating is tied for fourth. In addition, he shares fifth in game-winning goals, second in overtime goals and third in game-deciding shootout goals, while he is the only player in the League with multiple tallies in each of those categories. The Yaroslavl, Russia native is one of three players to record two hat tricks this season, while he’s also the first Blue in franchise history to notch two in one season since Brett Hull in 1996-97.
The players learned of their All-Star selection from Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong, who called to let them know on Friday.
“To finally be able to get that phone call, it’s almost the same time last year as the Olympics and has the same feel to it," Shattenkirk said.
For a humble guy like Tarasenko, he gives the credit to all of his teammates.
“You go on the ice with four other guys and a goalie, so you know your success is their success, too,” he said. “Sometimes you score on a power-play but somebody else got his face cut two minutes ago. It’s all team stuff.
“I think I’m more happy for (Shattenkirk) than me, that we go together,” Tarasenko added. “When somebody else scores, I’m more happy than when I score. I’m really happy for Shatty. He’s one of the best (defensemen) in the League this year. The guys who practice with him every day, with all the stuff he does, it’s not a surprise for us. Especially me, who knows what kind of guy he is.”