PHILADELPHIA - At this point, is there anything Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko can’t do?
Score goals, kill penalties, deliver perfect passes to his teammates to set up goals - he continues to impress.
The 24-year-old Blues forward has had three points in two of his last three outings. With his 21st goal on Saturday, he took over the top spot in the League scoring race until Dallas’ Jamie Benn regained the lead with a two-goal performance later that night. Regardless, Tarasenko is on a career-best five-game goal-scoring streak, which also stands as the longest active streak in the League. He will look to extend that tonight when the Blues meet the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center (6 p.m. CT, FSMW, KMOX).
“He’s amazing. He’s one of the best hockey players I’ve ever seen lace ‘em up,” said Blues forward Scottie Upshall. “He’s a very determined individual, likes to score big goals and does it at will. We’re happy to have him and we’re happy to see him scoring. He’s a big impact for us and we just hope he continues to do what he’s doing.”
The Blues will need Tarasenko to keep doing his thing if they expect to leave Philadelphia with a victory tonight. The Flyers began the season with a 6-9-5 record but have gone 8-3-2 in their last 13 games, which includes a 4-2 win against the Blues on Dec. 10 at Scottrade Center. In that game, Michal Neuwirth stopped 35 shots while Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists, including the game-winner.
“The good thing is, we played them only 11 days ago. It’s fresh in our memories, so we know the style they play and we’ve got to get ready for that,” said defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who ranks second on the club in plus/minus (+13). “We get two chances in the season to beat this team, and we’re down one, so we’ve got to get it back tonight.”
“Everyone talks about four lines, well they play four lines,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “They play with pace, physicality, they play hard. We played pretty good against them and still didn’t beat them. There are elements of our game that need to be better, but you can’t help but be impressed with them.
“Up front, there was deep as anybody we’ve played against.”
Joel Edmundson was recalled from the Chicago Wolves on Sunday and will be back in the lineup tonight against the Flyers. He’ll play alongside Kevin Shattenkirk.
“I think I got away from my physicality,” Edmundson said of being assigned to the Chicago Wolves earlier this season. “Going back down there, I thought I played a physical game and stood up for my teammates. That’s what the guys here wanted to see. I’m just glad I’m back here.
“It was a temporary move, first to get a read on (Petteri Lindbohm) and to get ‘Eddie’ playing in every situation,” Hitchcock said. “His game obviously was real sound down there. He was playing with an edge and he deserved to come up. He’s going to add a lot to us.”
Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi - David Backes - Troy Brouwer
Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall - Scott Gomez - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
The Blues enter tonight’s game on a three-game winning streak. A win tonight would tie their season-best at four games, which was set back in October.
One way to keep the Blues’ power-play off the board is by not giving them a chance with the man-advantage. Calgary did that Saturday. Over the last six games, the Blues’ power-play has converted on six of its last 11 chances (54.5 percent). On the penalty kill, the Blues have denied 27 of the last 28 attempts (96.4 percent).
Scott Gomez has racked-up 53 points (13 goals, 40 assists) in 67 career games against the Flyers.
Tonight will be Gunnarsson’s 400th career NHL game.