Tkachuk Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
Blues forward has scored four goals in three games to start the season
Tuesday, 10.14.2008 / 12:19 PM / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues
|Keith Tkachuk has scored four power plays for the Blues in just three games this season.
Blues forward Keith Tkachuk is on a torrid pace to start the season, scoring four goals in his first three games. He leads the entire league in the goal scoring department as of Tuesday, Oct. 14.
Tkachuk, who will turn 37 in March, has scored all four of his goals on the power play.
The 36-year-old is picking up right where he left off. In the final two games of 2007-08, Tkachuk scored three times to reach the 500-goal milestone, a mark that only four U.S. born NHL players have achieved.
Only one thing has eluded him his entire career: a Stanley Cup. It appears Tkachuk is focused on adding it to his resume before he hangs up the skates.
“I want to win,” he said last season after scoring goal No. 500. “At this point, I want to win and I want to win here. That would mean everything.”
Tkachuk has heard his share of “old geezer” jokes around the Blues locker room lately, but his production on the ice through three games speaks for itself. No witty comebacks necessary.
“It’s the greatest job in the world; it’s still a thrill to play in the NHL,” Tkachuk told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week. “The pressure is different. The pressure is, ‘Do you want to play for a long time, do you want to play year after year?’ And it gets harder every year.”
That may be true, but Tkachuk is certainly making it look easy.
GRAY LINE CENTER
Rookie T.J. Oshie was known for his offense and big hits at the University of North Dakota, but he showed recently that he’s got a lot more to his game.
Former Blues forward Jamal Mayers had a breakaway Monday in his first regular season meeting with the Blues, but Oshie made a spectacular diving play to knock the puck off his stick early in the second period, showing he has the tools to be a great two-way player in the NHL.
Oshie also recorded his first career NHL point, an assist on Brad Boyes’ goal early in the second period on Monday. Because of a knee injury to Lee Stempniak, Oshie was moved up to the club’s top line with Boyes and Andy McDonald. Stempniak is listed as day-to-day.
Blues coach Andy Murray refers to lines as colors rather than assigning them distinctions like “first line, second line.” Oshie started the season centering the “gray line” between Tkachuk and David Backes.
In a radio interview before the season, Oshie said he considered himself a third line center. The next morning, Andy Murray pulled Oshie aside and asked “Who said you were a third line player?”
Oshie said he just assumed he ranked behind Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund on the depth chart.
“Are you going to tell Keith (Tkachuk) he’s a third line winger?” Murray asked.
Oshie said nothing. Probably a good decision now that Tkachuk leads the league in goals.
The Blues have gotten off to a sluggish start in their last two games and found themselves trailing big after the first period in both.
“Two slow starts and our goalie wasn’t very good in the first period for us tonight,” said Blues goalie Manny Legace, referring to himself after Monday’s game vs. Toronto. “The boys just battled back for me and got an amazing two points for me tonight. It was huge.”
“We’re not happy being down three goals and the way that we were playing,” Murray added. “We regrouped and I think our guys realized how disappointed we were with our performance in the first period. We found a way to get it going.”
While the team overcame a rough start Monday, the story wasn’t the same on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum for the Islanders’ home opener. Chris Mason gave up four goals early and although he was strong in the final two periods, the club never recovered.
“We came out flat-footed,” Mason said after the game. “We were outplayed in the first period. They were fired up. They came out and threw a lot of pucks at us. After the first, we settled down, but we were embarrassed with our effort in the first.”
The Blues will attempt to start strong Thursday when they host the Dallas Stars at 7:30 p.m., the first of seven consecutive games at Scottrade Center.