ST. LOUIS — There's a lot to like about the first four games of St. Louis Blues rookie Vladimir Tarasenko's NHL career.
When he woke up Friday morning, the highly skilled Russian winger ranked ninth in the league in scoring and first on the Blues with four goals and six points in four games.
Tarasenko, 21, scored two goals in the season opener and hasn't slowed down. The highly hyped former No. 1 draft pick popped in another goal Thursday in a 3-0 victory over Nashville that pushed the Blues' record to 3-1.
"He's a very competitive player," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team travels to Dallas for a 7 p.m. game Saturday. "He's playing the way we thought he could play."
If he plays much better there could be a Calder Trophy in his future as NHL Rookie of the Year.
Tarasenko has been a scorer at each level he's played, including the Russian national team and while playing against much older players in the Russian pro league, the KHL.
He also grew up as the son of Andrei Tarasenko, a famous coach and former Russian national team player.
Placing Tarasenko on a line with veterans Andy McDonald and Alex Steen has also played dividends. The trio has quickly bonded on and off the ice, contributing a whopping six goals and 14 points through four games.
What has impressed McDonald about Tarasenko?
"Just the way he's handled himself," McDonald said. "Coming into it -- new league, new teammates -- he's been really eager to learn and listen to his teammates. He was pretty nervous about his first game, but he's handled himself really well."
Tarasenko possesses elite skills, but also has the ability to place himself in the high-percentage scoring areas at the right times. He also has a ridiculously quick shot and a puck-bag full of moves, as he showed Thursday when he beat Nashville star goaltender Pekka Rinne.
Tarasenko also mixed it up in front of the Nashville net Thursday, not shying away from the physical side of the game.
"He's an explosive player. He's got a tremendous shot and he sees the ice well," McDonald said. "But one of the things that people don't see is his composure off the ice. He's a good kid that's willing to learn and work with his teammates, so that's a bonus for us."
Blues center Patrik Berglund, a native of Sweden, knows what it's like to visit North America for the first time after being a standout in another country.
Berglund said the players have been impressed with Tarasenko's desire to soak up as much as possible while assimilating himself quickly within the group.
"He's very respected in the locker room," Berglund said. "He's a humble guy and a great guy. He's playing with Andy Mac and Steener and that helps him every day in practice. ... He's in really good hands.
"He's doing his job and we're really happy that he's this hot right now."
Honoring Stan the Man
The Blues will honor Stan Musial before their 7 p.m. Sunday home game against Minnesota with players wearing special warmup jerseys with "Musial" on the back and each wearing Musial's trademark No. 6.
The jerseys will be autographed by each player and later auctioned off, with proceeds going to the Blues' 14 Fund and Cardinals Care.