The Blues have been plagued by injuries through the first several weeks of the NHL season: Paul Stastny is recovering from a broken foot, Kevin Shattenkirk continues to be nagged by a groin injury, Jaden Schwartz is out three months with a fractured ankle and Patrik Berglund has yet to appear in a game after undergoing shoulder surgery in August.
But the Blues have overcome them as best as they can, and find themselves fighting for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, thanks in large part to the emergence of Vladimir Tarasenko as an elite player.
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Tarasenko, who missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury but returned Tuesday against Los Angeles, has six goals and four assists in his first 11 games and is proving to be worth every penny of his eight-year, $60-million deal he signed in the offseason.
The Blues are 2-0-1 following a loss so far this season, meaning the Blackhawks will surely have their hands full Wednesday night when they welcome their arch rivals into town despite it being the second of a back-to-back for St. Louis. You can catch the action at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.
After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.
Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.
"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.
"What was said this time around crossed the line."
The Capitals released a statement about the incident:
"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."
The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.
Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.
"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."
The Capitals released the full interview.
Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.
Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.
Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:
After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: