For the third straight season, St. Louis Blues star right winger Vladimir Tarasenko will represent the team at the NHL All-Star Weekend, scheduled for Jan. 28-29 in Los Angeles.
He is the first Blues player to be selected for three straight All-Star games since Chris Pronger from 200 to 2002. Before Tuesday, the 25-year-old Russian ranked third in the NHL scoring race with 20 goals and 43 points in 40 games.
Tarasenko’s 20 goals are fifth in the NHL and he is seventh with four game-winning goals. His 23 assists rank 18th in the league and in the past two seasons, Tarasenko has lit up opponents for 37 goals and 73 points, following his 40-goal, 74-point total in 80 games last season.
“He’s one of the best players in the world and he’s going to be there every single year,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “We’re lucky to have him on our side. It’s a great honor for him, he deserves it.”
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Even though opposing teams go out of their way to game-plan for Tarasenko’s high-scoring exploits, the points keep coming.
“He just seems to keep on going,” Pietrangelo said. “That’s OK with us. If he’s going to keep making it, that means he’s playing at an elite level.”
The 16th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft has 126 goals and 252 points in 299 games with the Blues. He also has 19 goals and 26 points in 33 career playoff games.
Rookies Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine were among the 40 players selected Tuesday for the NHL’s 62nd midseason showcase at Staples Center. The Chicago Blackhawks led the league with four players selected for the All-Star weekend.
The Pacific Division won the tournament last year, but the weekend was dominated by the unlikely story of Scott. The journeyman enforcer scored two goals and was voted the MVP after an equally improbable grassroots online campaign by fans to vote him into the game as a captain – even after he was traded from Arizona to Montreal and sent to the minors.
The NHL changed its fan voting rules this season to reduce the chances of a similar situation, adding stipulations that players had to be on their team’s roster on Nov. 1 and hadn’t been sent to the minors before Jan. 26.
The NHL All-Star Weekend includes the Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition Jan. 28 and the league’s All-Star Tournament on Jan. 29.
The tournament includes 3-on-3 games with the all-star players forming four teams from the Pacific, Central, Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions.
Along with Tarasenko, the Central Division team includes Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford from the Chicago Blackhawks, Patrik Laine (Winnipeg), Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, Tyler Seguin (Dallas), P.K. Subban (Nashville) and Ryan Suter and Devan Dubnyk from the Minnesota Wild.