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Tarasenko back on the ice as Phase 2 begins

Blues forward says "everything is good" in recovery from shoulder injury

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

A handful of players were on the ice Monday at Centene Community Ice Center as the St. Louis Blues opened the facility to begin Phase 2.

One of those players was Vladimir Tarasenko, who has fully recovered from a shoulder injury that has kept him out of the lineup since October.

"We just skated our first practice. It's nice to change something and finally be able to come to the rink," Tarasenko told "I was really close to coming back to playing when the season got delayed, so I got some extra time for recovery and practice to make (the shoulder) more strong. Everything is good."

Tarasenko was skating around the ice seemingly in top form Monday, ripping shots at an empty net that went top shelf or bar down nearly every time.

"You start slow, you start with the basics, do some exercises where you remember the feeling," he said. "I think it's going to (come back) pretty quick. You work on the basics and move to a harder, harder level. Hopefully when camp opens, everybody will be ready. And we're going to play to win again."

Video: Tarasenko on practicing in Phase 2

While many teams have been participating in Phase 2 workouts for several weeks, the Blues opted to wait until Monday before opening Centene Community Ice Center for workouts. Phase 2 is strictly voluntary and allows players to use the team facilities for on-ice and off-ice workouts, as long as appropriate social distancing guidelines are followed. Players can skate in groups of six or less and must have their temperature checked daily upon entry to the facility. In addition, players participating will undergo COVID-19 testing twice per week.

The NHL is targeting July 10 for Phase 3, which would mark the official opening of training camp. After that, the League is hoping to resume play with a 24-team playoff format.

"(It will be) intense," Tarasenko said of the upcoming postseason. "But I've never been in this situation, so I don't really know how it's going to be. The World Cup we played a few years ago, it felt a little weird starting with games on a high level right away. We're going to have a training camp before, so I think everybody is going to be ready. It's playoffs, so there's no time to find your game. You're going to have to be ready to play.

"We have almost the same guys from last year, so everybody knows what we're here for, everybody knows what we did last year to make it happen. Just think we need to do this and stay tight," he added. "When you win a Cup, you just don't want to lose anymore. I know it's impossible, but the thoughts in your head, when you win, is you want to do it again."

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