Friday, December 18, 2009

Another lackluster performance in Blues loss to Lightning

Tampa Bay scores season-high six goals, snaps six-game winless skid against listless St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Christmas is not for another six days, but the Blues were in a giving mood Friday night.

Unfortunately, they continue to give away goals, give away points, give away room in the standings, and if they don't change something very soon, they'll give away their season.

The Blues were once again listless, they were poor in their own end and they turned an announced sellout crowd against them against a team that was a train wreck going downhill fast.

The Blues' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday before 19,150 fans -- many walking out of the turnstiles disappointed once again -- dropped the Blues back to .500 (14-14-5) and keeps the Blues at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Thirty-three games into the season, it's the same story when it comes to lack of execution that on the part of the Blues that made a winner of a Lighting team (12-14-9) that was winless in six (0-5-1) and one win in 12 (1-8-2).

The loss, painfully for the Blues, was reminiscent to ones suffered recently against Edmonton, in which the Blues blew a 3-0 lead, and the 3-0 loss to Chicago Wednesday.

"I would almost call this loss tonight dumb. It was a dumb loss," said a disgruntled Blues coach Andy Murray. "The goals we gave up ... to me, the game against Edmonton (Dec. 11) in the third period, in our own building, we got pushed around. Tonight, we just played dumb.

"I'm responsible here. I'm the head coach, and it doesn't sit well with me. We've got to talk about what we can do better as coaches as well. We've been pretty supportive of this group of players because in reality, these are the guys you have so you've got to get as much out of them as you possibly can. It's not like we're going to trade three, four guys. It doesn't work that way in the league now, so you've got to trust your guys. It's disappointing when we play like tonight."

The Blues, who got goals from Brad Winchester, T.J. Oshie and Keith Tkachuk, were sequestered in the locker room for a prolonged period of time and it seems to be something of a bad habit running free.

They allowed the Lightning to score a season-high six goals and on two occasions, they allowed goals seconds after they would get a big one themselves.

On each occasion, it was the next shift that cost the Blues precious momentum.

After Winchester's first of the season gave the Blues a 1-0 lead in the first, defenseman Roman Polak got caught on a pinch and Tampa's Alex Tanguay raced off on a 2-on-1, where Martin St. Louis tied the game 33 seconds later.

The Lightning had a 3-1 lead in the third when Oshie cut the deficit to one at 3-2 just 3:58 into the third period, but on the next shift a bad giveaway by Brad Boyes -- who had ample time getting a puck out of his zone along the right boards.

Boyes, instead of keeping the puck along the wall, threw a clearing attempt right into Tanguay's midsection. The puck stayed in the Blues' zone and Jeff Halpern scored the first of two goals just 14 seconds after Oshie's goal to make it 4-2.

"It shouldn't happen," Murray lamented. "We get a couple big goals and we gave up a goal right in the next shift. Bottom line is it shouldn't happen.

"Poor decisions, poor execution. You put trust in players, you put them on the ice to get the job done. We know what we need to do. We talked at great length about the idea that you have to be able to respond in key situations when you've scored a goal, or when the opponents have scored a goal, at the beginning of periods, at the end of periods, after power plays, after PK's. You have to be ready. That's a very important shift.

"We scored in both cases. They're going over it with the knowledge that it's a real important shift and we didn't get it done."

The Blues got within a goal again, as Tkachuk knocked in the team's second power play goal of the night -- they were 2-for-5 -- to make it 4-3, but another cough-up along the corner boards (Polak again) would up in the Blues' net as Halpern was on the doorstep of a Ryan Malone feed.

"The puck stayed on the wall and I just tried to hit it," Polak said. "We have to win those battles on the walls. I didn't and it ends up in our net."

Seems to be a Groundhog Day moment for the Blues.

"No loss is a good loss," said goalie Chris Mason, who stopped 18 shots on the loss with little or no help. "It just seemed like every time we got back in the game, they come back and score. For me personally, I've got to make saves at crucial times for our team. Tonight, I didn't really do that. Big shifts after we score goals are really important for momentum and things like that. I didn't get it done tonight and it resulted in a loss."

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