Vladimir Tarasenko could make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut tonight when the puck drops on Game 4 at 9 p.m. at Staples Center.
Ken Hitchcock didn’t say for certain that he’d play, but Tarasenko skated with the Blues’ fourth-line in Monday’s morning skate and was sharing the left-wing role with Adam Cracknell.
“I had a talk with him yesterday and he’s excited to play,” Hitchcock said. “I think he deserves to play based on his regular season…he certainly gives us some options moving forward if the game gets as close as it does.”
Tarasenko wasn’t in the lineup for the first three games of the Blues’ first-round series with Los Angeles. For a team looking to capitalize on their scoring chances, one would figure Tarasenko will be part of the equation eventually.
“He came back a bit tentative from the injury, but when you have a player that contributes like he does and is as strong on the puck and as determined as he is and is as big as he is, he’s an asset we can use,” Hitchcock said.
Tarasenko was the NHL’s rookie of the month for January when he had nine points (five goals and four assists). Since returning from a concussion on March 16, he has seven points (two goals and five assists).
Both goals since his return were scored on March 28 against the Kings.
The Blues had plenty of good scoring opportunities in Game 3, but no one was able to capitalize.
“We definitely had our opportunities, it’s just a matter of burying them,” defenseman Jordan Leopold said. “We have to take plenty of positives from it, we didn’t cash in our opportunities and we definitely had plenty. I know I had one with about six or seven minutes left in the game.
“It’s unfortunate, but we have to turn the page and get ready for the next game here.”
Added Hitchcock: “I thought we did a lot of good things, we created a lot of turnovers, but we didn’t sustain the pressure. We got a lot of good original shots, but I don’t think we got as many second and third shots as we’re going to need to outwork (Jonathan Quick).
“More than anything today, we were unlucky.”
- The power went out on Sunday evening where the Blues are staying in Los Angeles. The hotel and businesses nearby were without power for several hours.
- Several players went to see Iron Man 3 on Sunday night. Jake Allen and Cracknell were among the players that went to the James Beach restaurant in Venice, home of the famous fish tacos from the 2009 comedy “I Love You, Man” starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel.
- The Blues have the best shot differential in the third period in the postseason (plus-18).
- The Blues have given up just two power-play goals to the Kings in their last 31 playoff opportunities dating back to last year’s second round matchup.
- Brian Elliott ranks second in goals-against average (0.93) and save percentage (.962) among all playoff goaltenders.
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