Team closes doors for 23 minutes after allowing another 2-0
lead slip away, fall further into basement of Central Division
ST. LOUIS -- At the end of an ugly 7-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on home ice Thursday that brought their record to 2-4-3, the Blues were sequestered inside the locker room for 23 minutes.
And when the doors opened, leadership was left to try and explain another uncharacteristically ugly loss in front of 17,068 Enterprise Center faithful that booed the Blues off the ice.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (right) had some pointed comments
after a 7-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Questions from frustrated fans again began to abound. Is coach Mike Yeo's job safe? Can the captaincy of Alex Pietrangelo be stripped? Why isn't this player doing this? Why isn't this player doing that? How can this be happening for a team that loaded up in the offseason and became a cap team struggling like this out of the gates?
Using the "it's early" terminology worked for the first few weeks, and it was justifiable for a team incorporating at least eight or more players into the roster, but when it's the end of October, and the same glaring mistakes -- many being made by veteran players making a lot of money -- are so obvious over and over during the course of a game, something has to come to a head.
For the third time in nine games, the Blues lost a game in which they led 2-0, but the bottom began to drop out, a version of pond hockey began to unfold, and the Blues -- particularly their goalies -- began to fall fast.
And when the players emerged to speak to the media, Vladimir Tarasenko had some of the harshest words.
"It sucks. I don't know the words," said Tarasenko, who scored his third goal of the season to make it 1-0. "It feels like shit to do this in front of our fans. This is not the most fun time in our lives and in my life personally.
"... You can suck more and more and then you can never get out of it. But we don't need to try to create something beautiful right away. You just have to go step-by-step like small plays. And have a belief in ourselves again, so we can play good hockey and we can outplay teams. Not only winning on accident, but completely outplay teams. I just want to say sorry for our fans who support us. I feel like shit now after games like this."
And rightfully so.
The Blues were outworked by a more determined Blue Jackets team that scored three times in the second period to chase Jake Allen after allowing four goals on 21 shots, and the mistakes leading to the goals were so glaring, the grumbles from the seats could be heard begrudgingly.
"We know we need to be better," said captain Alex Pietrangelo, who was minus-3 in 20 minutes 33 seconds of ice time. "I'm tired of having these conversations. We need to be better.
"We're just not good in small aspects of our game. We're giving up odd-man rushes. We're giving up chances that are uncharacteristic of this group. Small things make a difference in the game now, especially the way every team is built, every team can score. We've got to take care of our end. I'm tired of leaving our goalie out to dry."
And even when the Blues made a push late in the second, getting a goal from Alexander Steen at 11:30 and nearly tying the game on three separate occasions but didn't because of clutch saves from Joonas Korpisalo, to set up for a big push in the third -- like they got in Winnipeg on Monday -- they faltered badly again.
"Yeah, it's frustrating for sure," Steen said. "I don't know what to say. It's not good enough obviously. We're going to get back to work tomorrow. We can't feel sorry for ourselves.
"I've said it before when we've gone through times like this, there's no easy fix, but the problems that are happening right now are easy to fix. But the work ethic part of it has to be there more consistently."
Does that fall on the players or the coach?
"As a coach, what you have to do is you lead the way obviously," Yeo said. "It's emotional right now, so I need some time to think about it again here tonight. How we approach tomorrow, obviously push the guys a lot, challenge the guys a lot. Bottom line is, is the only way that we all come out of this is together. Whatever that is to get the group, to get the players to believe in themselves and to want to do things and to want to play for your teammates more than anything. Then that becomes contagious, then you become a team that's so tight and so strong. Obviously no team's going to win every night, but you build confidence in your game and you build confidence in your game around you. Mistakes happen, someone's going to cover up for you. Goals might go in, but we're going to answer back, whatever the case is. We have to build that right now."
Character question come into play here, and Tarasenko vehemently denied that's a problem.
"I don't see any guy here who don't care," Tarasenko said. "It's maybe because everybody tries to do (more) than they can do. Now we need to figure out just what our jobs are and just do our job. Worry about whatever your play (is), don't worry about overall and not try to create something that's special but just go grind, you need to grind sometimes. You need to do small stuff. There is not other way to get out of this one. But usually teams that can find away from this become strong teams. I personally believe in every guy in this locker room. I believe in our goalies. Our goalies are perfect, first of all.
"I don't blame (fans for booing us), it's just all on us. You know some fans can say this. But trust me, we feel like shit right now. But we believe in our group, and we believe we can break (out of this) and become a great team."
The Blues started a season-long seven-game homestand hoping to make strides in a big way. This was not what they had in mind.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues defenseman Vince Dunn (left) and goalie Jake Allen (34) look to work
over Columbus' Markus Hannikainen during action Thursday night.
"I'm sure the guys had a lot of good thing to say tonight," Yeo said. "It's an emotional loss, there's no question. It sucks to have a game like that in front of our fans. It's kind of where we're at, looking at the start to our season. I think everyone's frustrated and disappointed. Questions to start to get asked, but the way that I see it, maybe this is a point for us that's something that we can really look at. It needs to be. Bottom line. It needs to be sort of a let's look in the mirror, what are we going to be and how are we going to do it because it was a tough one tonight for sure."
When asked if the players supported Yeo, the answers were unanimous.
"Yeah. Everybody supports our coaching staff," Tarasenko said. "Everybody supports our GM and coaching staff and people who work here. There is no question anyone thinking he doesn't deserve to be here. We support him. We believe in him. That's why he's our coach right now and we will (bleeping) play for him so hard. So there's no questions about team don't believe in the coach or something like this."