Now that Vladimir Tarasenko is back in the Blues’ lineup, the team’s goal is to keep him healthy. But that will require an increasing awareness on the ice for the Russian rookie who is playing on the smaller North American ice surface for the first time in his career.

Even before Colorado’s Mark Olver laid a heavy hit on Tarasenko on Feb. 20, knocking him out for 10 games with a concussion, the Blues were worried about the right winger putting himself in a vulnerable position. No one believes Tarasenko deserved the results of Olver’s hit, which was not penalized, but avoiding those potential situations is a process.

“It’s part of getting accustomed to the game over here, compared to back home (in Europe),” said Blues forward Alexander Steen, who spent time in Sweden and Winnipeg growing up. “I played a little bit over here, tournaments, stuff like that. For Vladi, I don’t know if he’s ever played on the smaller rink.

“I think he’s made the adjustment well, but things like this happen. It’s a contact sport. Sometimes you just end up in a situation like that and end up missing some time.”