DENVER - For the second consecutive season, Vladimir Tarasenko is headed to the NHL All-Star Game.
Tarasenko, 24, is tied for second in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, which is given annually to the player with the most goals at the end of the season. Tarasenko’s 23 goals trail only Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars (24).
“It was pretty exciting," Tarasenko said of being selected to the All-Star team. "I want to say thanks to my teammates for helping me be a participant in the second all-star game of my life. It will be fun for fans because we’re playing for them, and it’s a really good experience.”
In 40 games this season, Tarasenko ranks first on the club in points (41), goals (23) and second in assists (18).
Since the beginning of the 2014-15 season (including the postseason), Tarasenko has scored 66 goals, which is second in the League only to Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (79).
“I don’t know where we’d be without what he’s been able to do,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He’s one of those guys that’s not afraid of the spotlight, and he deserves to go there and enjoy himself and have a good time. He’s paid his dues here for us. When we need him the most, he’s come through just about every time. You’ve got to be really happy for him and really proud of him.”
NHL All-Star Weekend will be held Jan. 30-31 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The weekend will begin with the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. CT and will conclude with the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. CT.
Tarasenko will be the Blues’ lone representative at the game, which has been altered into a 3-on-3 All-Star tournament this season. The tournament will feature three 20-minute games played by All-Star teams from each division, with the winner claiming a winner-take-all $1 million prize.
Each team consists of 11 players: six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies.
"The NHL All-Star Weekend festivities provide a unique opportunity for our fans, players, clubs and business partners to come together in one city to celebrate the game at its highest level," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "We are introducing a creative new format this year in Nashville not only as a way to enhance the competitiveness of the event, but also as a vehicle to highlight and emphasize the incredible skill, speed and athleticism it takes to play our game."
Other players selected for the Central Division team are Jamie Benn (Dallas), Matt Duchene (Colorado), Patrick Kane (Chicago), Tyler Seguin (Dallas), Jonathan Toews (Chicago), Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg), Roman Josi (Nashville), Shea Weber (Nashvile), Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota) and Pekka Rinne (Nashville).