It didn’t take long to realize that Vladimir Tarasenko was the odd man out today at Blues morning skate. Speaking to the media after skate, head coach Ken Hitchcock confirmed that T.J. Oshie will return to the lineup and start in the rookie’s place in Game One of St. Louis’ first round playoff matchup against the Los Angeles Kings.
Oshie will replace Tarasenko on the line centered by Patrik Berglund that includes David Perron. Hitchcock said he believes veterans deserve the first crack at a playoff series, and also pointed to a grueling season for Tarasenko.
“He’s a really good player that’s had his eyes opened…This has been a strange season, so I think if this was an 82 game season he would be, energy-wise, a little different,” said Hitchcock. “But, this has been a very difficult season for him because he has never been through anything like this in his life.”
Hitchcock said that both Tarasenko and Dmitrij Jaskin will “probably get some time during the playoffs,” while pointing out that Tarasenko has played his best hockey when rested.
Tarasenko suffered a concussion against Colorado in February and missed nearly a month of game action.
Oshie, who had surgery two weeks ago to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle, has not played since suffering the injury blocking a shot against the Kings on March 28.