ST. LOUIS – A longtime star and captain are gone, playoff hopes are grim, and there seems to be legitimate concern about recent efforts from the St. Louis Blues.
Head coach Craig Berube is not satisfied after the Blues dropped their fourth consecutive game Thursday. St. Louis lost a long lead in the final minute of the third period and fell in overtime to a worse-positioned Vancouver Canucks team.
“A lot of our best players not doing the job,” St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. After St. Louis Post-Dispatch Blues writer Jim Thomas asked “Why?,” Berube responded, “I guess they don’t care about the team, I don’t know. Not sure why.”
Berube did not call out specific players with those comments, but when asked about young talents Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, he noted their recent production has been “not good enough.”
The latest four-game losing streak comes one week after the Blues moved captain Ryan O’Reilly and two weeks since moving longtime star Vladimir Tarasenko in trades. Both were pending free agents and largely anticipated to be dealt in wake of St. Louis’ prolonged season struggles.
The latest four-game losing streak is the Blues’ fourth skid of such length this season, which includes an eight-game losing streak very early in the season. The Blues only had two four-game winless streaks last year and hadn’t reached five under Berube until this past season.
Despite the tough circumstances, Berube questions the motivation of his squad.
“Our best players don’t play with any passion, no emotion and no inspiration at all,” said Berube. They don’t play inspired hockey. You cannot play in this league without emotion, grit, being inspired. They’re getting paid lots of money and they’re not doing the job. End of story,” he noted to close his postgame media session.
Berube noted that only a handful of players gave strong efforts Thursday, praising Alexei Toropchenko, Pavel Buchnevich and Jordan Binnington for their work.
Toropchenko, a second-year forward who had the game’s opening goal, has a message for the team regardless of standings position.
“Even if we are not in a playoff spot, I will do everything because it’s a hockey game. This is NHL. You are not playing in a beer league or something. You need to show something, you need to show character and be strong everywhere, play from your heart.”
The Blues close out February with two home games Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tuesday against the Seattle Kraken. MoneyPuck.com gives the Blues around a 1% chance of making playoffs this season, a franchise standard for much of the past decade.