Blues coaching staff points out the negatives in wins over Detroit
By Jeremy Rutherford
When Blues players showed up for practice today, they were asked to sit down and watch film of their two games against Detroit. If you would have watched the film, you never would have guess that the Blues won both games over the Red Wings. The coaching staff only aired the team’s “lowlights” from the two games.
“Today was the ‘black hat’ day . . . we got after the guys pretty good,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “We didn’t show one positive clip today. Every one was things that we need to do better . . . how poorly we played in the first periods. We’re not patting anybody on the back. If you read the quote on the board (in the locker room), it says it all.”
Here’s the quote that Murray was referring to . . .
“Arrogance breeds complacency and complacency means you are going backwards.”
Murray made up the quote himself. “It’s an original,” he said, smiling.
Blues assistant coach Rick Wamsley is the one who took the players to task while they watched the film. Normally a fun guy to be around, Wamsley apparently has another side.
Asked about Wamsley’s demeanor during these black-hat sessions, Blues goalie Chris Mason said: “He’s extremely blunt. He’ll just say it exactly how it is. He’s not demeaning you, but he points it out and says, ‘That’s unacceptable on this team.’ I guess if you’re the guy that’s in the clip, you know you did something wrong. But the way he says it, he really gets the message across.”
Evidently, Wamsley has another gear. When asked about it being a ‘black hat’ day, Wamsley contended it was only a ‘gray hat’ day.
“It was a gentle reminder,” Wamsley said. “It’s not done to embarrass anybody, but when somebody shows up on (the film), you talk to them and let them know why it’s on there. We were real happy with the result (in Sweden). But we set a standard of how we need to play by the way we played the last half of last year. And for whatever reason, in the first half of each game in Sweden, we were so far away from that standard, we were lucky to survive.”
The Blues had another up-tempo practice today, and afterwards, Murray dismissed the notion that teams are bound to suffer after returning from Europe.
“I thought our practice on Monday was outstanding,” Murray said. “I thought today was good too. We were skating and moving the puck. Walt (Keith Tkachuk) was complaining that it was too fast, so that means it was good. I told these guys that every radio show I did yesterday, all they wanted to tell me were the records of the teams that have come back from Europe, how they’ve struggled. I just don’t buy into that. Not going to happen. We’re going to play hard and be ready to go. If we’re not prepared to play hard, I’ll just get Walt to come out before the game and tell the fans, sorry we can’t play as hard as you want tonight, we’re tired from the trip. I don’t think Walt would want to do that, and I don’t think the fans would want to hear it, so they better play hard.”
The Blues will have new lines for Thursday’s home opener. Murray altered his combinations in the second period of Saturday’s 5-3 win over Detroit and said after practice today that he’ll keep them the same. Here’s a refresher:
Andy McDonald-David Backes-David Perron
Paul Kariya-Patrik Berglund-T.J. Oshie
Brad Winchester-Keith Tkachuk-Brad Boyes
Alex Steen-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen
Basically, all Murray did was switch Kariya and Winchester . . .
“I didn’t think that our gold unit, which is Berglund’s unit, was being effective in (Saturday’s) game,” Murray said. “And I didn’t think our blue unit, which is Walt, Brad and Paul, were being effective. I had that in mind that we may do that. There’s a good chance” they will be the same Thursday.
D.J. King will come off IR soon, but it’s still not known when he’ll be ready to play. Meanwhile, a few of us in the media were wondering today whom Murray would take out of the lineup if he felt the need to dress Cam Janssen.
“It may get to the point where I have to make a decision like that,” Murray said. “But there’s not enough of a reason to take anybody out of the lineup. I think there’s some guys that need to be on guard, and they will be alerted to that fact. Right now, I don’t have the rational to take somebody out. There’s some guys that have to pull themselves out of the discussion group . . . as I tell players, don’t let your name get in that group that could be considered a candidate to come out. The group is not very big right now. It consists in my opinion of two. That’ll get you thinking . . . “
Who are they? Murray wouldn’t divulge who he was talking about, but when he was asked if Berglund needed to be worried, you could read between the lines.
“He needs to continue to get better,” Murray said. “I liked Cam Janssen in the preseason. He wants to get in the lineup. D.J. King wants to get in the lineup. There’s an onus on the guys in there to play well. I indirectly answered your question.”
Murray said the same applies for the defensemen . . .
“There’s all kind of reasons to put (Alex Pietrangelo) in,” Murray said. “He needs to play, he’s young, he can add an offensive element. He needs to get experience. I can come up with 1,000 reasons why Petro should play, but you totally lose your team, the other guys in the room, if you take a guy out of the lineup that doesn’t deserve to come out.”
Murray was shocked that Derek Armstrong cleared waivers on Tuesday.
“He deserves to be in the NHL,” Murray said. “Organizationally speaking, I’m certainly (glad that Armstrong got through waivers), but I can’t believe he got through. I can’t believe that. It just shows you how everybody believes in their team right now, and they don’t want to switch things up too much.”