O’Reilly takes blame for ‘absolutely horrible’ play during Blues’ skid

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — Ryan O’Reilly said his play has been “absolutely horrible,” and the St. Louis Blues captain is shouldering a lot of the blame for their 3-5-0 start this season.

O’Reilly has one goal and a minus-11 rating, his worst eight-game start to a season during his 14-year NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche, Buffalo Sabres and Blues.

“I’ve been absolutely horrible right now,” O’Reilly said after practice Wednesday. “I’m not really doing anything. I’m kind of fighting for my life right now. I’ve got to fight to stay in this league, I guess, but I’ve got to do a lot more, leadership-wise, my own play. If I can do that, just that small thing, I think I can make a big difference. 

“… For myself especially, it’s pretty pathetic.”

O’Reilly’s comments come a day after general manager Doug Armstrong addressed the team and said Craig Berube will remain as coach in light of a five-game losing streak following three consecutive wins to open the season.

St. Louis, outscored 25-8 during its skid, hosts the New York Islanders on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; BSMW, MSGSN, ESPN+, SN NOW).

“I think Doug’s message was clear,” O’Reilly said. “This is unacceptable what’s going on and he’s absolutely right. We all obviously have to look inside and find our own way out of what’s going on. 

“… It’s pretty much time to figure it out.”

O’Reilly has played much of the season on a line with forward Jordan Kyrou, who has three goals in eight games and has a Blues-worst minus-13 rating.

“He’s a leader and he’s the captain of our hockey team,” Berube said of O’Reilly. “That’s what he does, but it’s on everybody.”

Armstrong didn’t lay out any demands during his talk, only expressing belief in the roster and that the Blues will start winning again.

“I talked to the players a little bit [Tuesday] about we have been a strong team for the better part of a decade, likely 12 years,” Armstrong said, “and as a manager what I want to do is reward them every year by trying to push this to a 13th year, then a 14th year, then a 15th year, but when they tell me that the run’s over, the run’s over.

“I said to them, ‘You look at the teams that have had success in the past that are into a different phase of their organization, everyone has the term retooling, rebuilding … I don’t want to be a re-anything, I want to continue what we’re doing now and I do believe in the group, and again, very self-serving because I put it together, but we’re not in the belief business, we’re in the winning business. 

“We have to start to compete at a higher level. The competition and the competing is going to show itself. It might not show itself in wins, but it’s going to show itself in how we play and then the wins will follow that.”

O’Reilly said he was grateful for Armstrong’s belief in the players.

“Oh yeah. I think that’s good to hear. I think we know,” O’Reilly said. “We’ve seen it. We saw our game against [the] Edmonton [Oilers] (a 2-0 win Oct. 22). We know what we’re capable of. We know we can compete with anyone. It’s nice to hear from him that he believes in us. Again, it’s on us now. It’s on myself mainly. It’s time to get something going.”

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