Blues coach Craig Berube is on point when he snarls out words like soft, dumb and fragile in describing his docile team’s state of mind and state of play.
It’s actually funny, to be honest. When the scowling Chief goes in front of the Zoom camera after the Blues snooze and lose, his postgame therapy session is more entertaining than the lame-game performance of his team.
Berube hasn’t gone Full Tortorella, but with 12 games remaining there’s still time for that. But Berube’s tactic of inspiration through insult isn’t working. That’s been the obvious reality for many weeks.
The Blues’ lack of interest in saving their season is appalling. If Berube wants to reach these generously compensated Blues, he probably has to go through their agent and accountant. Maybe they’ll pass the message on to his players.
The Blues were in the shuteye mode Thursday night, losing 4-2 to Colorado at Enterprise Center. We’ve seen this movie (dumb and dumber?) too many times. Predictably, the Blues yawned their way through a series of self-made mistakes.
Want to pass the puck to the lethal-machine Avs for a scrumptious turnover and set up an easy goal for the visitors? Sure. Mindlessly flip the puck over the glass for a penalty? Go for it. Take another second period off as part of the script for the next loss? Absolutely. Bumble four consecutive power play ops while down 2-1? Hey, go for it! In 9+ minutes of PP time, the Blues croaked for seven shots on net.
The Blues have too many problems.
“We cause our own problems,” Berube said.
Same as it ever was.
I’ll say it again: I have no idea why we keep expecting the Blues to change their habits, reshape their loser mentality, undergo a sudden personality transplant, replenish confidence, and totally reinvent themselves as competitors.
This isn’t 2019.
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
This is what the Blues are:
A record of 12-17-5 in their last 34 games, ranking 27th among the 31 NHL franchises in points-collected percentage over that time. This is a team averaging a pitiful and league-worst 1.73 goals per 60 minutes at five on five since Feb. 4.
The logbook shows a 5-11-4 record since winger Vladimir Tarasenko became the first of several injured players to return to the lineup. That was 20 games ago. The Blues have scored two or fewer goals at five on five in 17 of the 20. … and no more than one goal in 15 of the 20 at five on five.
Tarasenko is a ghost, with one even-strength goal in his last 17 games. He’s been on the ice for 254 even-strength minutes during that time. From 2014-15 through the end of the 2018-19 season, only Alex Ovechkin had more even-strength goals than Tarasenko. During those four seasons the Blues were 109-42 when Tarasenko scored a goal at any strength during a game.
Brayden Schenn averaged just under 23 goals in the past three seasons, but has only 12 overall this season including nine at even strength. Over his last 26 games Schenn has one even-strength goal in 427 minutes of even-strength ice time. His last even-strength goal came Feb. 27.
Mike Hoffman has his big-goal moments but floats in and out of the ether, looking like a guy in search of a transfer portal.
Jordan Binnington ranks 19th in even-strength save percentage.
Defenseman Justin Faulk has one goal in his last 30 games. Defenseman Torey Krug hasn’t scored in his last 39 games and has one goal all season.
(I don’t want to talk about the departed Alex Pietrangelo and how he ranked third among NHL defensemen in goals scored during his final four season as a Blue. Nope, I’m not going to mention that.)
Following last night’s slog, the media-designated villain of the day is winger Zach Sanford, who should have received an official assist on Colorado’s first goal, which evened the score at 1-1. Sanford is reliably careless and has one even-strength goal in his last 21 games. It makes everyone happy, OK, scratch Sanford. This won’t cure the Blues, but whatever.
After conning the audience and perhaps the front office by briefly energizing to win three in a row before the NHL trade deadline, the Blues resorted to their usual torpidity by losing three straight since the deadline. That includes Thursday night’s loss of heart to the Avalanche.
Most of the Blues’ injuries have healed … but their game has not. The Blues are 3-9-1 in their last 13 games. The Blues went wild for seven even-strength goals in a 9-1 victory over Minnesota on April 9. Wonderful. But they’ve scored only 14 even-strength goals in the other 12 games.
The Blues are only one point behind Arizona for the final playoff ticket in the West division, but that’s only because of AZ’s 1-7 crash in the last eight games. And San Jose and Los Angeles are lurking behind the Blues.
Ten of STL’s remaining 12 games are against Minnesota (5), Colorado (2), Vegas (2), and Los Angeles (1.) The Blues are 7-13-2 against those teams this season.
Mathematically, the postseason is still possible for the Blues. Aside from their scoring deficit, motivation deficit, attention-span deficit, work deficit, goaltending deficit and schedule deficit, the Blues are in phenomenal shape.
Thanks for reading …
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For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.