Shattenkirk, Tarasenko most worthy to represent Blues in All-Star Game
ST. LOUIS — Although others may be worthy, only two Blues stand a real chance to earn limited roster spots in the NHL’s All-Star Game when the remaining selections are announced Saturday.
The case hardly even needs to be made for forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who ranks third in the league with 22 goals and earned No. 2 Star of the Month honors in November. His stunning goal against the Rangers on Nov. 3 may be the goal of the season, and no one came close to generating as much excitement for the Blues as the dynamic 23-year-old.
"The whole thing is a weekend to showcase the talent in the league and show the fans a lighter side to the game and a fun side to the game," says defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. "He’s someone who I think we all know being around him really enjoys hockey and has fun with it, and I think it would be a perfect weekend for him."
Shattenkirk hopes to join his teammate in Columbus, and the 25-year-old defenseman certainly has a compelling case. He leads all defensemen with 29 assists, and his 23 points on the league’s most successful power play are three more than anyone in the NHL.
An extra effort to get in shape over the offseason has paid off in a big way for Shattenkirk, and his aggressiveness all over the ice makes him dangerous on both ends. The improvements haven’t gone unnoticed by coach Ken Hitchcock, and it would be a shame if they aren’t recognized Saturday.
"He’s so mature," says forward T.J. Oshie. "He’s an offensive weapon back there on the blue line, and that’s something that playing against other teams’ really good offensive defensemen, (Drew Doughty) or guys like that, it’s frustrating for other teams."
Those two potential All-Stars may be the biggest reason the Blues are in fourth place in a competitive Western Conference heading into Saturday’s 7 p.m. matchup with Carolina on FOX Sports Midwest. But they’re certainly not the only ones who should be considered among the NHL’s top 42 players.
Tarasenko’s linemates Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz are both deserving, though Schwartz will undoubtedly be hindered by a foot injury that sidelined him for six games. Similarly, sharing time with Jake Allen and a long absence due to injury will hurt the case of goaltender Brian Elliott, even though he leads the league with a 1.81 goals-against average and his .933 save percentage ranks third.
Unfortunately, the league’s requirement that each team have one player represented and fan voting will leave those Blues with virtually no chance, especially since Chicago Blackhawks made up five of the six players selected by fans.
"There’s always people that are legitimately disappointed," Hitchcock says. "That’s the only thing that bothers me is that there’s always players who richly deserved to go who don’t get a chance because we’re representing all the teams."