It wasn’t too long ago that Vladimir Tarasenko was among the short list of serious Hart Trophy candidates, carrying the St. Louis Blues and continuing his rise among the NHL’s best players, a ladder he’s ascended at a steady pace since entering the league in January 2013.
It looks like equilibrium has set in for the 25-year-old winger, who began the season with 13 goals through 24 games and 16 and 38 points through 33 contests. Tarasenko hasn’t scored a goal in eight games, recording just three points over that span to go along with a minus-seven rating. His even rating in Tuesday’s 3-0 win for St. Louis in Pittsburgh snapped a seven-game skid of finishing in the minus. He hasn’t been a positive on the plus/minus side of things since January 2nd, when the Blues beat the Blackhawks in the Winter Classic at Bush Stadium.
Tarasenko has just four goals over his last 15 games, all four of which came in a three-game stretch earlier this month.
Over the eight-game span in which Tarasenko has gone scoreless, the Blues have slumped to a 3-5 mark amidst what has been a trying season in St. Louis as the Blues have been unable to replace key losses over the offseason in David Backes, Troy Brouwer, and Brian Elliott. Goaltending has been the big trouble spot for St. Louis, with Jake Allen unable to take hold of the starting job in net while Carter Hutton and Phoenix Copley haven’t been anymore than what they’re advertised as – which is backup goaltenders.
While Tarasenko remains on pace for a career-high 78 points, he has just eight in his last 15 games while his minus-11 is a career-low.
Of course, much of that rating can be attributed to the team around him not being as good as it was in prior seasons. Stats like plus-minus and Corsi (his Corsi-for per 60 minutes is a career-l0w 57.78, according to Puckalytics) are largely contingent on team play. And few would deny that this is the worst Blues team that Tarasenko has played for.
Tarasenko’s value to the Blues goes without saying, and it shows in the numbers. That career-low Corsi-for per 60 minutes leads the team among players that have logged 300 minutes for St. Louis this season, and is one of just seven among that group of 18 to have a goals-for percentage greater than 50 percent (52.83). It explains why he’s in the conversation for the award that goes to the NHL’s most valuable player, and will continue to be should the Blues remain in the playoff race.
Because of that value he brings to the Blues, his struggles of late in terms of getting on the scoresheet also explains why St. Louis has taken a bit of a dip in the standings.