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After a third Surgery and Months of Rehab Tarasenko Returns

He may not be the hero we need right now, but he is the hero we want.

Vladimir Tarasenko’s return could not have come at a better time. With Sundqvist being injured in the last game and his status unknown for Monday against San Jose, we as fans needed a ray of sunshine.

The Blues have had 8 players on the IR list for too many games. Adding Parayko on Saturday was yet another kick to the gut for the team and fans. Just when all hope is lost, we get the ray of sunshine and a glimmer of hope we needed Yana, Vladimir Tarasenko’s wife.

Revealed by Scott Warman and Bernie Federko in the pre-game show before the LA Kings game on Saturday. The news release of Tarasenko’s return was not by a member of the Blues home office, or by Vladimir himself. No, the news came by way of Yana on her Instagram account (@tarasenko.yana).

The post was innocent and sweet with nothing more than saying they were ready. Yet this was enough to get fans foaming at the mouth as to his return. It did not help that several interviews with Berube and other Blues staff saying Tarasenko was on the road trip. The question was not if, but when.

Injury Number one

So, let us break down the road so far. Tonight’s game is the first time Tarasenko has been back since August 14, 2020 during bubble Hockey. Tarasenko has now had 3 shoulder surgeries to get him back into game readiness. The first came in 2018 in a game against the Colorado Avalanche.

After a long road back to the ice he returned fresh and ready for the 2018-19 season. The Blues and Tarasenko’s start were not optimal at all. Costing Mike Yeo his coaching job and landing the Blues in last place in points on January 2nd 2019. At the All-Star Break the comeback started which of course led to the best run the Blues have ever had ending in the franchise first Stanley Cup for the 2018-2019 season.

Injury Number two

The next season in 2019 Tarasenko was back band ready to go until the game against the LA Kings in October of 2019. A basic check sent him off the ice and into surgery number 2. The Blues had to adjust without the sniper on the ice and did very well leading into 2020 before the pandemic ramped up.

Injury Number three

Fast forward to “Bubble Hockey”, and Tarasenko has had plenty of time to recoup from surgery number 2, and the team, and the fans, were ready for something that gave life to the tough times we have all had to deal with.

Tarasenko played 4 games before he had to be reevaluated by trainers and never returned to play. The blues were knocked out in round one of the playoffs and a 3rd surgery was in his future.

The Return!!!!

So here we are, March 2021 and the fans have been anxiously awaiting the return of the fan-favorite. From reports, Head Coach Craig Berube and the back-office staff had always had a certain date in mind, but they were keeping it very hush-hush. a secret locked away with the formulas for Coke a Cola and KFC. Like keeping a secret weapon in their back pocket.

The news broke and social media went nuts. So many people on Twitter could not be happier to weigh in on the good news. Post after post was sent out in support of his return only driving the high hopes of a chance to gain an advantage on the LA Kings in LA. The Kings took two games from the Blues during a recent homestand.

Prior to the game, an interview with Berube said “it was time for Tarasenko to play, work hard, and compete”. The players also had positive messages:

“As a team, we are ready for him to be back” – Schenn.

“He’s skating real good and has high enthusiasm” – Bortuzzo.

Game Time

When the first period started Tarasenko wasted no time getting into the swing of things. Right after Perron scored the first goal Tarasenko had his first opportunity to score only to be stopped by Quick. On the plus side of things, watching the game you might have noticed that Quick seemed unprepared for the shot from Tarasenko and might have gotten lucky.

That did not stop him from continuing to try to put the puck in the net. Per a report from commentator Darren Pang, “Tarasenko had 3 attempts on goal by the middle of the first period.” As hard as he tried Tarasenko was not able to find the back of the net.

The Blues lost control of a 3-goal lead to send the game into overtime. Tarasenko had the best chance of the night with a great shot on Quick in overtime, only to have the puck end up with the Kings and in the back of the Blues net off a shot from Kempe.

Thus, ends the amazing run the Blues have had on the California trip. The Blues had a near-perfect run in California with a 4-0-1 record. Even with the loss the team and coach had nothing but positive things to say about Tarasenko’s performance in his first game back this season.

The players interviewed were happy to have him back and still feel he is an integral part of the team. Schenn said “he played hard and was good on the wall.” Berube stated “he was playing well and confident.”

I cannot leave this report without talking about the short interview Pang had with Tarasenko. Out of breath and holding back excitement to be back in the game, Tarasenko beamed “his Doctor, family and teammates were all big supporters of his and helped get him through the recovery. He felt confident in his shoulder and played well. He agreed that the team played very well in the first but had a less than stellar 2nd period.”

The best part of this whole game when it comes to Tarasenko was the smile he had while on the bench. Even Pang and John Kelly mentioned that “he was all smiles” throughout the game, and “it was good to have him back.”

Here is hoping Monday’s game against the Sharks allows Tarasenko more opportunities to get back in the flow of the game and we see his first goal of the season.

Bleeding Blue in the Lou

Chris Brunner

cbrunner11@aol.com

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