Monday, December 14, 2009

Time to park it

After pair of tough practices, Blues turn attentions towards Calgary

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest. It's the one day of the week with such a designation.

For the Blues, after a rigorous practice Saturday at the Ice Zone in St. Louis Mills, Sunday would likely have been a welcomed day of rest.

But there was still a little matter of blowing a 3-0 lead that culminated into a 5-3 disheartening loss to Edmonton on Friday.

And under coach Andy Murray, the message typically is to park a game -- win or lose -- once it's done and look forward to and begin preparing for the next opponent.

But there was the sense that the Ice Zone the past two days the team is in a foul mood, and some necessary tough love was needed from the coaches down to the players involved.

Practices were exhibited at full tilt, and players were served notice that the time is now to get this 13-12-5 record well above the .500 mark.

"We felt there were things that we needed to work on and we've used these last two days to emphasize it," Murray said. "Obviously, hard work is the first thing that was emphasized (along with) the compete level, the battling 1-on-1, making sure you put your team in a better position because you're winning the 1-on-1s. Obviously, the overall conditioning element was enhanced. I think there was certainly a message given, and I think it was received well by the players. They worked extremely hard and I think they felt that it was needed."

Saturday, it was veterans Keith Tkachuk and Barret Jackman pounding on each other, something typically not seen among teammates. And on Sunday, there were some purposeful 1-on-1 drills that saw Roman Polak and David Perron banging on one another, along with Jackman and Andy McDonald.

"It's the right message that's being sent to your young players," Murray said. "Look at how hard these guys are working, and if they can work that hard, you guys have to suck it up, no matter how tired you are. You've got to find a way to get through this practice."

And now, the Blues will channel their attentions to another challenge Tuesday when the Calgary Flames come calling.

It's time to officially park Friday night, curtail those negative thoughts and feelings from the loss to the Oilers. It's history. Done. Can't do anything about it now. Focus on the next foe.

"It would have been nice if we played the next night, I'll tell you that much," Tkachuk said. "That wasn't the case. ... You have to park it. There's too many big games coming up here and you have to let it go, but you have to learn from it also. ... So we had a bunch of days to watch video and some tough practices. We'll be ready to go Tuesday night.

"(But) these were some well-deserved kind of tough skates. We needed it. We knew the way we played they were going to be like that. We deserved it. ... Guys were getting on each other's skins (the last couple days), so that's a good sign."

Jackman has been the most vocal since Friday's debacle, and he took it another step on Sunday.

"Obviously talking isn't getting through to our team," Jackman said. "We're a very vocal group in the locker room, talking out problems, but it's just not working. Maybe we have to be more of the bad cop and start calling guys out individually, even if it is going to hurt their feelings or make them upset. It's a business now and we have to get this turned around or there's going to be changes made and nobody wants to see that happen."

Jackman made his points clear following Friday night's loss. His frustrations were clearly outlined on his face, when he talked about "if guys need to be smacked upside the head by a teammate" in order to shake things up within the walls of the locker room.

"When you were growing up, you're parents always gave you a little smack on the side of the head when you were mislaying," Jackman said. "You bring in the old-school approach and get guys going."

The Blues were in the old-school type of practices, and in order to stay away from those in the future, repeats of Friday's performances need to be strictly prohibited.

"I'm disappointed how (Friday's game) turned out. We're all frustrated," Tkachuk said. "We all know what a letdown game that was, but it's over with, you learn from it. We had some tough practices and we're ready to go Tuesday night."

The Blues must find a way to alleviate a 4-10-2 record inside Scottrade Center. All eyes will be on them as well, because the team is honoring recently named Hall of Famer Brett Hull in a pregame ceremony.

"We worked hard in practice for a reason, because we haven't gotten the job done in certain situations at home. We need to be better," Murray said. "They did the work in practice here. The most important thing is how they perform Tuesday night against Calgary. We'll see if there's a reciprocal effect from the two quality practices."

No comments:

Post a Comment