As we head near the 10th game of the season, St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko is leading the defending Stanley Cup champions in points. Tarasenko has 10 points, and alongside the center of his line in Brayden Schenn are the only point per game players for the Blues thus far. While Tarasenko leading the team in points comes as no surprise, the way he is doing it is rather unorthodox compared to what the sniper has become known for. Tarasenko, known for his lethal wrist shot, has led the St. Louis Blues in goals in every season dating back to the 2014-15 campaign. But as the Blues head into their 10th contest of the season tomorrow against the Los Angeles Kings, Tarasenko only ranks tied for third in the team on goals with three. How is he the leading the squad in points? That would be his vision and his passing.
Tarasenko, now in his eighth NHL season, has always been touted for his goal scoring. He has scored 214 total goals, but little do most know, he has the exact same number of assists in his career for a total of 428 points. Tarasenko currently has seven assists, tied for 3rd most assists by a winger currently in the NHL. Three of his seven assists this season have come as primary helpers and he has recorded a point in all but two games so far this season, with the exceptions being the season opener against the Washington Capitals and in the 6-4 victory against the Ottawa Senators back on October 10th.
Great pass from VT91, even better goal from @DP_57 ! #stlblues https://t.co/GLDQsyZswl
Fans of the Blues had actually grown quite worrisome over the first couple weeks of the season, as the Russian sniper they have come to know and love did not score a goal within the first five games of the season. This was the first time Tarasenko had failed to do so in his career, but quickly put any doubts to rest, as he has since scored three goals in the club’s last four games. But for Tarasenko it seems he has become a little more pass first orientated, as his shot attempts at this point of the year are down from what we have seen historically. Right now, Tarasenko has 40 shot attempts and is on pace for near 360 attempts, which would be his lowest total attempts since his second NHL season back in 2013-14.
Despite building his reputation as an elite sniper. Tarasenko’s shot attempts going down and passing increasing should not be anything to build concern over. Tarasenko draws defenders to him off reputation alone and his vision and ability to find teammates will continue to open up scoring for his linemates, primarily Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn, who leads the team in goals with six. At his current rate, Tarasenko is on pace for 90 points, with over 60 of those points coming via the assist. But even with his passing and assisting ability becoming more apparent, his elite wrist shot is still in his repertoire and will continue to haunt opposing goalies for years to come.
Vladimir Tarasenko, who will turn 28 in December, has developed into an offensive juggernaut who can do it all in the offensive zone. He can score from anywhere on the ice and can also find the impossible pass to a teammate to create a scoring opportunity. Although thus far into the 2019-20 season Tarasenko has been recording points in ways most are not accustomed to, fans should be reveling at the improvement Tarasenko has made on the offensive side of his game. They should be watching for his excellent passing ability just as much as they look for that patented wrist shot from the top of the circle, and just overall enjoy getting to watch their superstar go to work on a nightly basis.