Ramblings: Tarasenko’s Performance; Updates on Oshie and Hart; Pastrnak and Lindholm Keep Rolling – February 22

Michael Clifford

2022-02-22

Vladimir Tarasenko missed a game over the weekend and with his recent, lengthy injury that saw him miss most of last year and much of the year before, there are always concerns. Those concerns were alleviated on Monday as he was at practice and coach Berube said they expect him to play on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

This got me digging around a bit on Tarasenko's season so far, and looked up his offensive and defensive impacts on Evolving Hockey. It really is something to behold:

[Tarasenko]

The flip side of that is he has 18 goals and 45 points in 44 games this year, representing a career-best point-per-game mark. He hasn't had great impacts at either end, defensive especially, yet he's still having a superlative season. What gives?

Quite simply, the team is on a tear with him on the ice. At all strengths, the Blues are shooting 13.3% with him on the ice (on-ice shooting percentage). He doesn't have a season with 50 games played and an on-ice shooting percentage above 11.9%. Relatively speaking, the team is shooting more than 10% better with him on the ice than in any season of his career. Can that maintain itself?

The simple answer is: I don't know. If we look across the league this year, there are 36 regular forwards (400+ 5-on-5 minutes) with an on-ice shooting percentage of 11% or above. We are approaching the 50-game mark. In the 56-game season last year, that number was 30. The year before that, the number was 18. Now, this is something I'll look at in the offseason, but my general theory for now is that there are some players, lines, and teams that are better at generating quality and it's showing in shooting percentages. This has always been the case in hockey, but with the emphasis over the last five years on team-wide transition, clean zone entries, and high-danger passing, perhaps the extremes are getting more extreme? That would help explain Tarasenko's season and why he may be able to sustain something close to a point-per-game. I still think he declines PPG-wise over the second half, but it may not be a cratering.

Defensively, there are concerns. No, we don't need our fantasy options to be elite defensively, and we may even want them to eschew such roles. All the same, if a line is pinned in their own zone because they can't retrieve the puck, it doesn't matter how good they are in the offensive zone. It would be nice to see a turnaround there on his behalf.

All that aside, it's been a wonderful return to the ice for Tarasenko after playing just 34 games in two years. We never know how players