Ponder This is a semi-regular segment that focuses on the St. Louis Blues. You can read more ramblings about the Blues by following Jeff Ponder on Twitter @jponder94.
Google search Tarasenko goal. Go ahead, I dare you.
What you’ll find is a copious amount of links, videos and images of a goal scored on Nov. 3 by St. Louis Blues right winger Vladimir Tarasenko. It was a goal that was seen on the NBC Sports Network throughout the entire United States as it was the only NHL game being played that evening. Basically, any non-NBA sports fan who wasn’t tuning in to the Monday Night Football game at least glanced at the box score of this East. vs. West matchup.
It inspired hundreds of thousands of shares on Facebook and Twitter. It helped lead to Tarasenko earning the NHL’s Third Star of the Week honors. It even inspired a flip-book video that quickly became a localized internet sensation.
This goal has been the buzz of the League since it occurred around 7:15 pm CDT on that fateful Monday night. Goal of the year isn’t a term that is thrown around lightly throughout the season, much less in November. This goal instantly received that high praise.
The Blues have had candidates for this distinction in the past. Rookie T.J. Oshie made Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo look like a flopping fish in March 2009. In November of the next season, David Perron danced around the New York Islanders for a pretty lamp lighter.
What makes Tarasenko’s tally more impressive than the others?
To the untrained eye, nothing. All three were exceptional plays that were capped off with the perfect placement of the puck to the back of the net.
However, if you dig a little deeper, you may notice the nuances that made this play stand out above the rest.
Accomplished on a night that there were no other NHL games in progress. Zip. Zilch. Oshie’s goal took place on a night when there were seven other contests on the schedule. The memorable Perron goal was scored with 12 other games being played on the same evening. They were also scored with local television picking up the games, while Tarasenko’s was nationally broadcasted.
Scored against a team that receives national attention. The Canucks dominate the television market in British Columbia and receive a solid following in the northwest corner of the United States. The Islanders are on the upswing now, but were coming off a season where they posted a dismal 17 TV rating. The Rangers, fresh off a Stanley Cup Final appearance, are a prime hockey market that receives a near-annoying amount of national coverage.
Blues are a team on the rise. Both goals scored in 2009 were on teams that were still searching for an identity. Oshie and Perron were upstart youngsters who provided NHL fans a glimpse into the Blues’ future, but the majority of casual NHL fans care about who is a contender now, not who will be in three years. Tarasenko is on an outstanding team (one in which won its fifth consecutive game that evening), to go along with being a highly touted player.
What does this mean for the future?
Tarasenko will receive more attention – this is both a positive and a negative. He’s helping put the Blues on the map, as they can boast that they employ a superstar-type player. Although the St. Louis team will unlikely receive the publicity that Chicago, New York or Boston seizes, a little can go a long way in getting St. Louis recognized. The Blues can add Tarasenko to the list of reasons as to why the franchise deserves to be broadcasted nationally on a regular basis or why the team is a prime candidate to take part in a future outdoor game.
The negative is something that had already begun occurring before this monumental goal was scored. Tarasenko is receiving more attention on the ice as the League’s top defensemen are almost always opposing his line.
However, this has proven to be of little consequence to the Russian forward, as he scored another highlight reel goal just three nights later against the New Jersey Devils.
How much do shutouts affect Stanley Cup champions?
On Tuesday evening, the Blues were shut out by the Boston Bruins, 2-0. It was the third time the Blues lost via shutout, marking the sixth total loss in regulation or shootout of the 2014-15 season. The lack of goal scoring has some fans troubled, but what has shutout losses meant for successful teams in the past?
During their Stanley Cup-winning 2013-14 campaign, the Los Angeles Kings were shut out six times (including a 5-0 loss to the Blues on Jan. 2). Going back to Chicago’s championship 2012-13 season, the Blackhawks were shut out twice in 48 games. This calculates to the 2013-14 Kings being shutout approximately once every 14 games, while the 2012-13 Blackhawks offense was completely shut down every 24 games.
The Blues, who were shut out seven times in 2013-14 (or once about every 12 games), are averaging a shutout against once every six games this season. The hope is that this average improves over time.
The problem isn’t so much that the Blues are being blanked in games. The problem is timely scoring. It’s the lack of scoring in each of the last two postseason Game 3s that are disheartening.
Management is hoping that the changes made this past summer, as well as the development of players such as Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, help keep that concern in the past.
Regular season shutouts shouldn’t keep fans from getting shuteye at night. That should only happen after a blanking in April or May.