Andy Murray has done a spectacular job turning this team around, despite the recent slide in the standings.
But the honeymoon is over with Murray. Crunch time has come, and the team is flailing. One of the knocks on Murray's coaching style is that he loses control of the veteran players as they lose faith in his system, which sounds eerily similar to the Mike Kitchen fiasco of two seasons ago. I'm not saying this has happened, but it's always something I keep in mind. While goaltending has cost us games of recent, the Blues have been playing with noticeably less grit, so it's a nagging thought in my head.
I'm not calling for Murray's head, but at the same time, I'm not willing to place sublime trust in the man just because he managed to turn this team around. Actually, call me cynical, but I'm not willing to place that kind of trust in anything, and I haven't been that way about JD and Murray from the beginning. I've been scathed by too many early playoff exits and failed prospects to accept things on a platter. (Remember...Brent Johnson, Jim Campbell, former first rounder Justin Papineau, and Petr Sejna? THAT'S why I question everything.)
That said, here are some things I think the Blues could do to turn things around and eek out a playoff spot.
-Name a captain. One person needs accountability to hold others responsible. Right now, Murray likes to have multiple players share the "A." But if you ever notice, when you have too many leaders, they tend to scatter when the Khavanov hits the fan. Everyone takes the 'It's not my problem, I did my job" mentality.
-Play the kids more! I'm not advocating unleashing David Perron 20 minutes a game, regardless of defensive lapses and/or mistakes. But at the same time, veterans need a level of accountability as well. At least the Blues are finally catching onto that with Backman. If Kariya and Tkachuk aren't scoring anyway, what could it hurt to play Perron more and see what he does? Why not cycle in the Backes/Stempniak/McClement line more?
-Take chances. When down by three or more goals, the Blues continue to play the trap. Why? You're on you're way to losing this game anyway, so why not open up? If you give up a few goals, then you still lose, but a loss counts for zero points in the win column either way. But, if you create more offense, you have a better shot at a point or two.
Murray has done a brilliant job with the team thus far, but this stretch to the playoffs will be his true test. He's done a lot of things I agree with, but at the same time, he does a lot of things that drive me nuts, like giving eric brewer a free pass all season while sitting other defensemen for lesser mistakes.
Hopefully, the Blues can turn things around, but first, Coach Murray has a little tinkering to do.