With all this wonderful Cardinals baseball happening, it’s been easy to forget your St. Louis Blues are prepping for training camp and a very highly anticipated season.
St. Louis puck-heads have been chomping at the bit for the Note to get started, especially after Doug Armstrong added forwards Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, David Perron and native son Patrick Maroon. It was an offseason that scratched the fans’ collective itches after seeing their Blues miss the 2018 playoffs.
So here we are, ramped up as ever for hockey, and the enthusiasm extends to Note head coach Mike Yeo, who recently joined Anthony Stalter and Jeremy Rutherford as they handle ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show’ this week.
Yeo discussed a variety of Blues topics, including where he sees his squad improving this season and assuring those concerned with Jake Allen’s play that he doesn’t share said concerns. You can fins snippets of the talk below, followed by the entire interview’s audio.
Yeo on this offseason’s additions and the depth they bring:
“I feel that we weren’t far off from being a good team last year. Obviously, one game away from making the playoffs and even with the type of game that we play; I don’t know that we were ready to challenge for the Cup, but I think we could’ve given anybody we played against a real hard time in the first round.
“That said, obviously we felt depth and scoring was an area we needed to improve on. The way that Army went about this summer and the improvements he made to our team; adding some right-shot, skilled forwards is going to make our power play better. Adding the depth of players that we have now is going to make us stronger to coach against and match up against and gives us more options as coaches.
“Adding the quality of players through the middle of the ice, which we felt was an issue, I think he’s addressed all the areas we needed to improve.”
On the quality of players like O’Reilly, Maroon and other new Blues, and improving the power play:
“These guys are established NHL players. We know what they’re capable of. The track record is there and we expect them to continue that. Good players are good players and when you put good players with other good players, it makes them better.
“Good players need to play with good players and we’ve got these guys now. We’ve got the guys from top to bottom from our forwards, that we have options as a coaching staff based on what we’re seeing from a night to night basis; whether it’s the chemistry with each other or whether it’s the matchups we’re facing.
“I think that we can make a big improvement. I think the power play, obviously it has to be and it will be better. That’s going to be a huge area right there…I don’t see why we couldn’t be in the top 10 for goals-for next year, and if we do that, with the way that we defend and the structure that we have, then we’re going to like where we’re at.”
On potentially putting O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn on the same PP unit:
“Yeah, there is a chance. That’s obviously what we have to figure out in training camp and part of it is philosophy-based, too. Do we want to try to load up one unit or do we want to have two units and have a little more competition between the two? That’s the debate right now and obviously we’ve got a whole bunch of ideas and nothing can stick until you give it a chance to click and see what works.
“But what’s going to be different, first of all, is it’s tough to score if you’re not a threat from both sides of the ice and it’s tough to score without one-time shots. Not having right-shot forwards last year that were really power play guys for us; I think that made it a little bit easier for teams to defend against us. To isolate the one side and take those options away.
“On a night to night basis, most teams are keying in on Vladdy (Tarasenko); well it’s easy to key in on him when there’s not other options.”
On fans’ concerns regarding Jake Allen:
“I don’t share those concerns and my job is to find all the concerns. My job is to figure out what could possibly go wrong and make sure it doesn’t. What I can tell you is I have a really good feeling about Jake coming into this year.
“What happened last year; obviously, he got off to a phenomenal start. He was playing outstanding hockey; one of the best goalies in the league for us and then he went through a tough stretch. He had no support last year. You know, if we think that Jake is going to come in and play 60 to 62 perfect games for us next year, it’s not going to happen. No player does and obviously it’s magnified as the goalie position.
“This year we’re going to have a group capable of scoring more goals and give him a chance to get out of it.”