May 5, 2013, 9:21 PM EDT
Despite having a 2-1 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings, the St. Louis Blues have struggled to create offense in a skin-tight first three games. The Kings’ Game 3 shutout begs the question: what needs to happen for the Blues to unleash Vladimir Tarasenko on the 2013 playoffs?
It’s no guarantee that he’ll be off the healthy scratches list in Game 4 on Monday, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that head coach Ken Hitchcock gave him some vague encouragement to get prepared.
“Get ready to play,” Hitchcock told Tarasenko.
Before Tarasenko fans get too excited, do note that he didn’t say “Get ready to play tomorrow/on Monday.”
Hitchock admits he needs time to mull that decision over.
“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” Hitchcock said. “That’s tomorrow’s decision. I’ll have to sleep on a lot of that stuff just to see what we need. I think he looks hungry and ready to play and I’m sure he’s going to play well when he gets in. But you’re not really sure if you want to screw around with the lineup right now when we’re playing so well, so I’ve got to balance that out right now.”
Beyond the fact that he’s a 21-year-old rookie, it’s worth noting that Tarasenko finished the 2013 season on a 15-game goal drought.
Then again, that slump came after he scored twice versus the Kings on March 28 …
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