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Blues' Tarasenko day-to-day with lower-body injury

by Louie Korac /

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury and was ruled out of the Blues' next game Thursday against the Calgary Flames.

Tarasenko was injured Monday against the Vancouver Canucks. He leads the Blues with 36 goals and 71 points in 76 games.

The Blues (46-23-7), who trail the Nashville Predators by four points for first place in the Central Division with two games in hand, are already without second-leading scorer Alexander Steen. Steen missed one game with a lower-body injury and his status for Thursday is uncertain.

St. Louis has six games remaining in the regular season.

Forward Ty Rattie was recalled from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League with the absence of Steen and Tarasenko, and the uncertainty of how long they'll be out.

"Lower-body, day-to-day," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said regarding Tarasenko, who is one of two players (defenseman Alex Pietrangelo) to play in every game. "That's what you're gonna get for the next four months, so get used to it. It's playoff time. But he's out tomorrow.

"Anybody that's out after we comment, same with [Steen], day-to-day. We won't comment until they come back in. So everybody's day-to-day. Certainly everyone's going to be available for Game 1 of the playoffs.

"Everybody's day-to-day, everybody will be ready for the playoffs."

The Blues dealt with a plethora of injuries at the end of last season that saw them lose the final six games in the regular season and ultimately cost them the Central Division title. The lost momentum carried over into their Western Conference First Round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. They're hoping a repeat isn't in order.

"Throughout the rest of the way, we're going to have guys in and out," left wing Steve Ott said. "No difference in the guys that were scratched in the last week or so. When stuff like that happens, you just continue to move forward and the next guy gets an opportunity.

"We're built on team depth here. That's one big reason we have this kind of a logjam situation at times with players. ... You never want to go on last year, but we didn't have the team depth and now we do."

The Blues were on the ice Wednesday and showcased some of their new line combinations. One featured Jaden Schwartz playing with Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie. Captain David Backes centered a line with rookie Dmitrij Jaskin and veteran Patrik Berglund.

"We had one period in Buffalo [together]," Stastny said. "It was fun. Two guys that play that give-and-go game and are guys that can read off each other. "

"We've been through this before," Schwartz said. "Every team goes through guys being out at certain points in the season. We'll have [Steen and Tarasenko] back hopefully. We don't know which game, but I'm sure they'll be back soon. Guys will have to step up.

"Those two [Stastny and Oshie] are special players. I've played with them before."

Veteran Olli Jokinen, acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline, will get an opportunity in the absence of Steen and Tarasenko. However, the Blues can ill-afford to miss them for a prolonged period of time.

"We've held off on Jokinen as long as we could," Hitchcock said. "Now he's going to come in and play on a regular basis, so we've really worked hard with him to get him up to speed from the [upper-body] injury, and he's 100 percent healthy and feeling good. We waited until the last possible day to work him through. He's going to help us, but now it allows us to move Stastny up in the lineup and hopefully impact the game in a positive way.

"One of the things that we want to get better at is the fact that if you look across the League right now, with everything that's at stake, there are very few odd-man rushes, there's very few scoring chances like there were six weeks ago. So your offensive opportunities are going to come in-zone at a high compete level. We just feel like the more lines we have that play that type of grind game are going to be more important in the next six games. For us, we're going to have to get connected to get in and score those greasy, hard goals. We think with Stastny and Oshie, we've got an opportunity to do that."

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