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Blues' Tarasenko eyeing different result, 50 goals

by Dan Rosen

TORONTO -- St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is putting his foot down, figuratively speaking. His point is that he's fed up with the way the Blues have exited the Stanley Cup Playoffs since he's been in the NHL.

"Right now we have three years in a row, same style of losing," Tarasenko told during the NHL's Player Media Tour on Tuesday. "It's enough."

It's easy to understand why Tarasenko would take the "enough is enough" attitude here, because the Blues have lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two years and haven't made it out of the second round in four straight despite having the most points in the NHL during that period (389 points, 1.323 per game).

They lost in six games to the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round last season. They lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the first round in 2014 after winning the first two. They also won the first two games of their first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings in 2013, but lost the next four. They were swept by the Kings in the second round in 2012.

"We're looking forward to playing not a different style, but to being different mentally," Tarasenko said. "I believe we can break it and go far in the playoffs. I believe we can go all the way and win the Cup."

Tarasenko has another goal this season, to score 50 goals. It's a number he is eyeing, but not one he said he'll go out of his way to try to reach because he doesn't want to have a me-first attitude on a team that needs everyone pushing in the same direction.

Then again, he understands that by reaching 50 goals he'll again help put the Blues in a good position going into the playoffs. Tarasenko had 37 goals in 77 games last season. He had six more in six playoff games, but it obviously didn't make a difference.

"It's a great goal, but you can't be focused only on goals, you need to help your team first," Tarasenko said. "If you help your team and your linemates help you, then it's real and why not. But even if you score 60 and your team lose, you're going to feel so bad after."

The question for Tarasenko is which center will be passing him to the puck this season?

He did most of his damage last season while playing with Jori Lehtera, who might have to miss the start of the season because he's still recovering from right ankle surgery he had done on Aug. 4. The Blues also have plans to give a bigger role to Paul Stastny, who might get the chance to center Tarasenko at the start.

"I like playing with both of them because they're both really smart centerman," Tarasenko said. "Whoever will play with me, I won't be upset. I love to play with both of them. They both can pass the puck. All you need to do is find open space and be ready to shoot. They're never jealous if you score or score more. They don't care. That's a really good part. When you feel like your linemate is not jealous you can play good."


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