Blues not considering coaching change amidst struggles

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — Craig Berube will remain coach of the St. Louis Blues, and it’s the job of the players to turn things around, general manager Doug Armstrong said Tuesday.

Berube, in his fifth season with the Blues, is 159-85-36. St. Louis made the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of his first four seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 2019. He is in the first season of a three-year contract he signed Feb. 9.

“I believe in the coach, I believe in the system,” Armstrong said. “This isn’t a system issue, it’s a competitive issue. We have to rectify that.

“I told the players the coach is not going anywhere because the coach came from the American Hockey League where he coached young players and made them better and he coached veteran players and made them win here. So he can do both.”

Armstrong spoke one day after a 5-1 loss at home to the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis’ fifth straight. After the game Berube questioned the recent effort of the players.

It’s the Blues’ longest skid since losing seven in a row (0-6-1) from March 25-April 5, 2021. They have been outscored 25-8 during the streak, including 18-7 the past three games.

They next play at home against the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Prior to speaking to the media, Armstrong met with the players. Among the issues discussed was how the Blues are in the lower tier in the NHL in several statistical measurements.

St. Louis is 30th in the NHL in goals per game (2.38), 26th in goals allowed per game (3.75), and 20th in penalty killing (79.0 percent).

“We’re in the bottom quartile of anything that matters in the NHL right now and that’s the best we are, is in the bottom quartile,” Armstrong said. “We’re in the bottom 10 percent in quite a few areas too. You look at goals-for, goals-against average, we’re in the bottom. You look at goal differential, we’re in the bottom. Our special teams are not special and so we need to make sure this is ground zero and start making our way up.

“And what I said to the players, we may or may not win on Thursday. Obviously we’re in the winning business, but what we need to see is a competitive level higher than what we have now.”

Armstrong is not in a rush to shake up the roster with a trade, but he said results will have to change soon or it could get to that.

“I do say I do believe in the group,” Armstrong said. “That’s a very self-serving thing to say because I put the group together, and ultimately it’s my responsibility to judge what they do.

“What we have to do now is put our stake in the ground that we want to get back and be in that competitive nature. When I look at the League in general right now, the teams that are rebuilding are moving quicker than the top teams are moving down, so the League is going to be compressed. So, what we have to do is we have to work our way back into the compression part of it.

“We’re not in the compression part of it yet, meaning there’s 25 teams right now in the NHL I think this morning that are .500 or better. That’s another 25 percent stat that we’re not one of them. So, we have to find a way to get back into that.”

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