Vladimir Tarasenko returns to St. Louis with Rangers to face former team
Vladimir Tarasenko will be receiving a special video tribute during tonights New York Rangers versus St. Louis Blues matchup after scoring 262 goals and 553 points for the franchise over 10 and half seasons.
“It will be an emotional game, but we have a game (Wednesday), too, so it will be quick,” Tarasenko told The Athletic prior to the Rangers beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3. “I’m glad it’s a back-to-back.”
Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:
New York Rangers (46-21-11) vs. St. Louis Blues (36-35-7)
Date/Time: April 6, 2023 at 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Enterprise Center
Radio: ESPN 98.7
Vladimir Tarasenko returns to face Blues
Tarasenko ranks fifth in career goals and career points in St. Louis and played a key role in the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup run.
“Vladdy was here a long time,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “He did a lot of great things for the organization. He was part of the Cup-winning team. I always look forward to seeing those guys.”
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong sent Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the Rangers on Feb. 9 for winger Sammy Blais, defensive prospect Hunter Skinner, a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and a fourth-round selection in 2024.
Rangers general manager Chris Drury targeted Tarasenko for the veteran’s playoff experience in addition to his scoring touch.
Tarasenko said, “In St. Louis, we did a good job of building the team mindset about making playoffs. You’re a young guy and you think you’re going to be there every year. So I don’t think you treat it as normal when you miss, like we did in 2018. And then we come back the next year with the right mindset, good team identity and we have success.”
The Rangers (103 points) are coming off a 6-3 home victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. New York has earned points in 13 of its past 15 games (11-2-2) and has won nine of its past 12 (9-2-1).
Since Dec. 5, the Rangers are 35-11-6 for 76 points.
The Blues (79 points) defeated the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Tuesday. They have earned points in nine of their past 11 games (7-2-2).
St. Louis expects former Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich to be back in the lineup after he missed the past four games due to an upper-body injury. He will center the No. 2 line between Jakub Vrana and Jake Neighbours while continuing to learn a new position.
“(Buchnevich has) played well there for a guy who hasn’t played that position since he was a kid,” Berube said. “He’s done really well. Now there’s still things, timing and things like that, he’s probably not satisfied with. Faceoffs, things like that that he wants to be better at. But it takes time.”
Top Blues center Robert Thomas remains sidelined with an upper-body injury, so Brayden Schenn will center the top line between Brandon Saad and Jordan Kyrou.
Berube has been pleased with his fourth line of Alexey Toropchenko, Tyler Pitlick and Nathan Walker. Toropchenko has four goals in his past eight games, and the unit has shouldered more checking responsibility.
“They’re going to go out and do the right things,” Berube said. “They’re going to pay a price to block shots, do all the things right to keep the puck out of our net.”
For the Rangers, Patrick Kane missed the Wednesday game with a lower-body injury and defenseman Jacob Trouba exited the contest due to an upper-body injury in the first period.
The third-place Rangers sit three points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division with four games remaining.
Patrick Kane was given a day off on Wednesday and is questionable for tonight’s tilt against the Blues. Earlier in the season, a lot was being made of a nagging injury impacting his play with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“He’s maintenance, lower-body, day-to-day,” Gallant noted. “If this was next week he’d be playing. We’re being smart with him.”
Captain Jacob Trouba is also uncertain for the game as he was injured on a hit Wednesday, landing face first. He left the contest and did not return with an upper-body issue.
“Day-to-day, he’s traveling with us,” the head coach updated. “We’ll see how he’s like [on Thursday].”
Jaroslav Halak is expected to be in goal. He has a career record of 0-3-1 versus the Blues with a 4.21 GAA, and a .876 save percentage.
–Field Level Media
–Forever Blueshirts contributed to this article