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Tarasenko's status uncertain for New Jersey

Tarasenko's status uncertain for New Jersey

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NEWARK, N.J. • Vladimir Tarasenko barely had time to break a sweat before he left Monday’s practice at the IceZone in Hazelwood.

Before the team departed for New Jersey and Tuesday’s game against the Devils, Blues coach Mike Yeo said the team’s star forward had an upper-body injury.

“It started last game,” Yeo said, referring to Saturday’s 6-4 victory over Toronto. “He aggravated something in the first period and he was able to get through the game. A little sore today, so we just got him off the ice.”

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When asked if Tarasenko’s early exit was a precautionary measure, Yeo said: “He was sore. So obviously we’ll monitor it and see how he is for tomorrow.”

So it appears that Tarasenko’s status is uncertain for the Devils.

Tarasenko had a goal and an assist against the Maple Leafs, giving him seven goals and nine assists this season in 15 games for the Blues (11-3-1). He’s also the team’s plus-minus leader at plus-12.

He got a full workload against Toronto with 19 minutes 8 seconds of ice time on 27 shifts. For the fifth consecutive game, Tarasenko took at least 10 shots, with seven of them on goal against the Maple Leafs, three of them blocked and two missing the net.

Alexander Steen took Tarasenko’s place on the top line for the rest of Monday’s practice, joining Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn.

BOUWMEESTER’S SLOW GO

The return from a broken foot has now reached the stage where it’s taking longer than anticipated for one of the Blues’ mainstays, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

“He’s just as frustrated as anybody else is,” Yeo said. “It’s just something that’s taking too long here. It’s disappointing for him. He wants to get back and he’s doing everything he can but it’s just not cooperating right now. So we just keep going.”

Bouwmeester suffered the injury when he took a puck off the foot in a team scrimmage Sept. 17, the opening weekend of training camp. So far, he has done very little skating during the rehab and recovery process.

“He’s gone on the ice a couple times but nothing that’s going to push him to being any closer to being a returning player,” Yeo said.

Bone-related injuries sometimes simply take longer to heal for some than others, but Yeo added: “It’s also kind of the location (of the injury). That’s part of the problem here. Bo’s always been a guy who, first off, he’s tough and you look at his history as far as making sure he’s in the lineup and a guy you can count on as far as that goes. So this is just a unique injury.”

TIMEOUT WELL SPENT

The Blues had trouble holding onto leads at the start of the season, with the result being overtime in the opener against Pittsburgh and a shootout in Game 3 against the New York Islanders. That issue returned to a degree against Toronto when successive goals by the Maple Leafs trimmed a 6-2 Blues lead to 6-4 in the third period.

Yeo called a timeout at the 13:13 mark of the third period after Tyler Bozak scored Toronto’s fourth goal — and third of the period.

“We were still in a good spot and we earned that position, but we needed to collect ourselves because the things that we were doing so well earlier in the game as far as controlling the game, controlling the game with the puck, controlling the game without the puck, we just got really loose against a very dynamic offensive team,” Yeo said.

The Blues gave up 13 third-period goals in their first eight games this season. Until Saturday against Toronto, they had allowed only two third-period goals over their next six contests — and one of those was an empty-netter near the end of a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia.

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