Thursday, October 23, 2008
Do our eyes deceive us? Is that Keith Tkachuk atop the scoring list?
I'm scrolling through the NHL stats Thursday morning and do a double take. Keith Tkachuk is tied for the NHL goal-scoring lead with seven?!
What gives Mr. 36-year-old, I'm-supposed-to-be-in-the-twilight-of-my-career?
"I wish I could tell ya," Tkachuk told ESPN.com Thursday. "I think it's just being around the net and playing with players who are finding you. Just putting yourself in position and being in the right place at the right time is the reason why. And, obviously, our power play is clicking and that helps me out quite a bit, just being around the net. I've just been fortunate, very fortunate."
Blues coach Andy Murray has shuffled his forward lines more than once. But most of the time, Tkachuk has been alongside rookie T.J. Oshie, who was 6 years old when Tkachuk began his NHL career 16 years ago.
"Playing with T.J. Oshie has been great for me," said Tkachuk, who posted 27 goals last season. "It's given me more energy playing the left side. Not only in games, but in practice, just how fast this young kid is, you have to do everything in your power to try and keep up. A guy like that has really helped me."
Tkachuk, with goals in every single game this season to give him 507 for his NHL career, is an unrestricted free agent at season's end. He could see the next question coming from a mile away and began to chuckle two or three words into it.
How about the 2010 Olympics, Mr. Team USA?
"I hate to throw the old cliché at you, but I am honestly a day-to-day guy right now," Tkachuk said. "I'm not even looking past practice tomorrow morning. That's the way I'm going to approach this year. [The Olympics] would be awesome, but who knows what the scenario is next year for me. That's why I'm approaching it day by day."
In the meantime, he's helped his team to a surprising 4-2-0 start, at least surprising given that few people picked them to make the playoffs.
"It probably makes you a bit angry, but it is what it is," Tkachuk said of the preseason predictions. "We haven't shown anything in the last couple of years to put us in that category. I look at it as a challenge to go out and try to do what we're capable of doing. And I think we can be a playoff team, no question about it. I don't think it matters what the predictions are; we know there's going to be a lot of new teams in the playoffs this year."