Mike Yeo's time in St. Louis has come to an end. After replacing Ken Hitchcock as the head coach back in 2015-16, it's interesting that he's out of a job today and Hitch takes a new one in Edmonton.
Yeo was given a team that was deep in talent but never had a strong netminder to ride. Show me a good coach and I'll show you a strong goaltender. Show me a recently fired coach and I'll show you a goaltender who played below expectations. It's nearly clockwork.
Enter Craig Berube. The former NHL tough guy was named interim coach late on Monday night and will look to right the ship in Missouri. He has two prior seasons as the main guy behind the bench in Philadelphia. The first, he took the team to the second round of the playoffs. The second season he missed them all together.
The Blues currently sit dead last in the Central division and 30th overall. Not a good look for a team that spends to the cap each year. The organization has also made it clear that this interim tag is legitimate. They will not commit to Berube and will conduct a thorough coaching search. This makes it difficult for anyone to project the fallout that comes with a new bench boss.
As is the case when a new voice is at the helm, the troops will often become reinvigorated. You only have one chance at a first impression and players know that after a coach has been canned, the next shoe to drop is often a player or three being shone the door.
Berube is known as a strong communicator. His players are well aware of what he thinks and what he expects. In the short term, that should bode well for the team.
We'll see how much he tinkers with lines but so far the offense has not been the problem. Despite sitting second last in the NHL for points, the team owns just a minus-three goal differential. The issue has been keeping pucks out of the net. It's easy to say they will play a tighter system with Yeo gone, but that's easier said than done.
Expect a squad that embraces a tighter system and attempts to clean up the porous goaltending that has been plaguing the team in recent years. This could cut into the skater's overall production a bit but will also help breed a more competitive unit overall.
Until we see how Berube plans to deploy his lines, which netminder he ends up giving the ball to, and how the squad responds, it's difficult to truly assess who this hurts or helps. I expect the Vladamir Tarasenko to continue to be given the freedom to create. Perhaps it's Brayden Schenn who gets back up to the top line and it's Ryan O'Reilly becomes saddled with the heavy defensive lifting.
Do we see Ville Husso get the call to stop the puck at all? Does Vince Dunn maintain his spot on the top power-play unit or does Alex Pietrangelo gain his old role back?
Here's a look at the lines at practice today
#stlblues lines today:— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) November 20, 2018
O'Reilly wasn't skating today but it's safe to assume he's likely to start in that 1C role and not Barbashev. Sanford landing in the top line left-wing spot would be huge for his value. A situation to watch closely. Robby Fabbri was in that spot last game so he's another one to watch.
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