Short of using an actual cattle prod to jolt his players out of their catatonic state, Blues coach Mike Yeo keeps trying various motivational methods to get the boys moving.
He did the Herb Brooks bag-skate punishment.
He made the players sit at their lockers like petulant brats to face the media after a hideous home loss.
Coach tried canceling a practice to convene a big, big, big, big team meeting.
Then he sent the players home. I am unable to confirm that he ordered them to bed without eating their supper.
Welcome to Ken Hitchcock’s world, Yeo.
Yeo is the latest Blues coach to fly over the cuckoos nest.
Forget the Stanley Cup. If there was a massive trophy awarded to the NHL team that excels at the task of making a coach go insane until he cracks, gets fired or both … well, the Blues would be a dynasty. They’d win the Poison Cup on a regular basis.
Yeo is irate and frustrated and increasingly unable to withhold his criticism of a maddening team.
Yeo doesn’t seem to know what to do.
Don’t taze them, Yeo.
After losing four in a row and , it’s time for the Blues to make a decision.
They have two choices:
1. Flip the script, turn their season around, and earn respect.
2. Or flop.
As Yeo told reporters after Thursday’s practice, “Now it’s between the ears.”
It’s always between the ears with these guys.
The Independent Contractors work on their own schedule.
Let’s hope they don’t take Friday night off. Not with Winnipeg cruising into the Scottrade Center, looking to put another loss on the Blues, and make Yeo blue in the face.
“It’s going to come through our play,” Yeo said. “What matters right now is everybody understands the situation that we’re in … now it’s about us making sure that we come together as a group and rebuilding the trust in our game and understanding that they we go out and do things the right way shift after shift, man after man — we’re going to get the results that we’re looking for.”
Here’s the situation that Yeo speaks of:
— In their last 30 games the Blues are 13-15-2, with a .467 winning percentage that ranks 20th in the 31-team league.
— They’ve scored a pathetic average of 2.27 goals per contest while skating into this 30-game rut. That’s the worst scoring average in the NHL since Dec. 11. Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen each have 10 goals in the 30 games, and that’s tied for 51st among NHL players since Dec. 11.
— The Blues’ shooting percentage over the last 30 games is 7.0 percent, worst among Western Conference teams. The power play is malfunctioning with a failure rate of just under 84 percent; that ranks 29th since Dec. 11.
— The return of Jaden Schwartz from a fractured ankle was touted as a panacea for all that ailed the Blues. But in his 11 games the Blues have muddled along to a 5-5-1 record … with a minor uptick in offense to 2.54 goals per game.
— This must be said: When Yeo coached Minnesota from the start of the 2011 season until his dismissal 55 games into the 2015-16 campaign, the most significant knock against him was a dull offense. The Wild were 27th in goals per game (2.42) and 25th in power-play success (16.7%) during Yeo’s term as coach. The Wild never finished better than 12th in goals. In other seasons they ranked anywhere from 21st to 30th. Same with the power play. The best showing in a season was a No. 16 ranking in PP success rate (that happened in two seasons.) Otherwise Minnesota was 23rd and 27th (twice.) Not good.
— According to SportsClubStats the Blues’ probability of making the playoffs has dropped to 58.2 percent as the weekend begins.
The Blues (34-23-2) are down to 21 regular-season games. The threat of becoming the first Blues team to miss the playoffs since 2011 should get the engines started. And looking at the numbers at SportsClubStats, if the Blues can go 11-6-4 in their final 21 games, they’d have a 93.7 percent chance of getting into the tournament. A 13-7-1 record improves their postseason chances to 98.2 percent.
The most critical phase of the season begins … now.
Starting with Winnipeg, the Blues confront an eight-game stretch that includes six road games. And as you can see, none are pleasure trips: at Nashville, Minnesota, Dallas, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Including Friday’s home game vs. Winnipeg, the Blues must collect as many points as possible in six games against teams that have no worse than a 74.1% chance of being in the playoffs. And a seventh, Anaheim, has a playoff probability of 63.4 percent. There’s also a home game — the first one back from the West Coast trip — against Colorado, which has a 38% shot at postseason hockey.
Time to make a decision, fellows.
It’s your call.
Maybe even the last call.
Thanks for reading …