ST. LOUIS - Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko once again was at the top of the team's scoring numbers.
Tarasenko led the Blues in points (75) and goals (39) and was tied with teammate Jaden Schwartz in assists with 36.
But Tarasenko isn't all about numbers. He's always talked about winning the Stanley Cup, and he reflects on another season in which the Blues failed to do so.
After completing his fifth NHL season, Tarasenko comments on the 2016-17 campaign, reports that he needs surgery because of an injury and if the Blues are closer to winning it all:
What is your reflection on season?
It was honestly hardest season in my career and longest one with the World Cup. We have a lot of emotional stuff going on through the season, a lot of ups and downs. I think we stay together as long as we can. From Game 1 to the last game, we were close to each other. I think it's a really big step forward for us. Now we have a summer and we can come after the summer in the same way and we need everyone to compete harder, be ready for more.
What did you learn from this season to last, including playoffs?
I think year was a little bit different because we don't have much expectations. It didn't seem like much people believed in us when we go in the first round. It was obviously too a real hard playoff for us. We have a lot of good lessons and bad lessons. Still, I think everyone is frustrated. We will be frustrated for a long time of this. We need to move forward, but I'd like to take chance to thank all Blues fans for their support during the year. It was amazing. It really helped us when it was tough times and it made us even better with winning streaks and all this stuff. I think nobody happy with the result and we have time to think about it and we need to reload and be ready for next season.
How will you remember this season, how should we remember this team?
It was a really close team to each other; it was like a big family. We have a lot of young guys this year. It was hard year for us. I hope next year will be better.
There were reports from Russia that you have an injury that requires surgery. Is that true?
There is nothing to talk about. It's offseason right now, so everyone have injuries. We have time to get healthy and be ready for next year.
Did you feel good throughout the playoffs? Do you feel healthy then?
I don't feel good right now because we lose.
Can you sacrifice toughness and getting back on the ice with the injuries?
A lot of players have injuries obviously. I saw a lot of players playing with broken bones and all this stuff. That's what I said when I mean we are all close to each other. We're all family and you just can't give up and say I can't play. We have to help the team and don't think about yourself a lot; you think about the team interest.
Do you like Mike Yeo and his systems, the way he wants you to play?
I think it's more simple right now. ... It's hard to take over mid-season. I know because my father is coach. The summer is really important part. I'm looking forward to this summer because we can talk about all the stuff and be ready for (next) season 100 percent. I like the way we play the game and his style.
What do you think happened to the power play in the postseason (2-for-30)?
I think we just being too nice to each other. Like being casual or something. We try to create like a better chance or something. It's supposed to be more simple and get more shots. Obviously it was hard time after Shatty gone because we have the same unit for four years here, but you need to adjust and that's on us and me personally. Of course it's one of the seasons why we don't have success.
Are you understanding now how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup?
Yeah, especially last year. You learn how hard it is to lose, and the deeper you do, it's harder to lose. It takes all power of you. It's a good feeling when you go into the playoffs. You play for it all year, you play 82 games and when you lose, you can drop or you can go during the summer harder and come back even stronger and make it next year. I know it's tough on everyone hearing and seeing 'make it next year,' but you guys ask me about the team, I don't know one guy who don't left 100 percent on the ice every night. We just try our best, but this year, we can't make it. Gonna try to make it next year.
Jori Lehtera was disappointed in the season he had and he lacked confidence. Can he bounce back?
Yeah, of course, yeah. Confidence, I think it's more what you don't see. Like you can't really see this from the stands. Even if you're close friends, you can feel when it's happened. It can happen with all of us. You don't score for like three, four or five games and then you say 'Oh, I can't score right now,' and then you score one goal and confidence back. If he said this, it's on us to help him get back, but I think during the summer, he's going to have the baby soon and I think he will be good next year.
Lehtera said last summer was tough getting ready for the World Cup, then the NHL season. Was it for all players?
World Cup ruins your own preseason routine. Just a lot of stuff happened last year. If you compare end of last season and summer to this season, there's a lot of stuff and I think you're more mentally tired and physically. Obviously physically yeah, but it is hard to handle when something change and you get used to playing for like four and a half years.
Do you feel like you're getting closer in here to winning it all?
Yeah, I feel it because there's more confidence in this locker room. The most difference for me I think is when Mike took over and then now and the end of the season, the win, when you win the game, it's like you feel like you're supposed to win. It's not supposed to be like surprise for you. So I think that's one thing that changed the last couple years. We start believing in each other more and the winning comes like predictable thing for us. With these emotions, I think we can make our goal happen.
Will you go to the World Championships? (Asked before decision was made)
I have no answer yet but probably not.
By LOU KORAC "One-hundred percent.
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