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Blues' Tarasenko ready for NHL debut

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The look in Vladimir Tarasenko's eyes said it all.

The St. Louis Blues' 2010 first-round draft pick is feeling like a kid in a candy store, excited to be realizing a dream. On the other hand, when the 21-year-old steps onto the ice for his first National Hockey League game against the Detroit Red Wings tonight (7 p.m. on FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), the nerves will be fast and furious.

"I'm very excited because this is my dream. It's a dream come true," Tarasenko said at the morning skate. "I'm a little bit nervous because this is my first game in the National Hockey League. I never thought I would get here."

Tarasenko has been a top-end player in the Kontinental Hockey League and was the 16th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. The Blues took a chance that he would one day want to play in the NHL and since his arrival they have made it a point to pair him with skill players. He will play with Andy McDonald and Alex Steen tonight, skating on an ice surface much different from what he's seen playing in the KHL, most recently for SKA St. Petersburg, where he had 31 points in 31 games this season.

"I like it. I've been here two weeks and I'm mentally ready now," Tarasenko said. "It's different play, but I like it. I have great linemates and they keep it simple for me. They help me a lot. They talk to me and show me some moments in the drills. They're really good guys and I want to help them as much as I can."

Tarasenko spent Friday night with his girlfriend, having dinner and talking about his first NHL game, which happens to be against the team he grew up idolizing as a child.

"When I was 7, Detroit was my favorite team," Tarasenko said. "In Russia, everyone liked Detroit. But now my favorite team is the Blues."

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