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The Blues know what their problem is: lack of effort

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How do you fix not giving a rip?

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I did something last night that I very rarely do: I turned the Blues game off. Apparently I missed Pat Maroon’s first goal.

Good for Pat.

I suffered through two periods of some of the shittiest hockey that I’ve seen since I was a Thrashers season ticket holder; I’m thankful I’m not in STL and a Blues season ticket holder, or I’d be demanding my money back. The Thrashers teams were constructed on a budget. The Blues’ payroll is the fourth highest in the NHL (hi, Jay Bouwmeester and Alexander Steen!). So what the hell gives?

The Blues fired Mike Yeo, and got the usual “we feel so badly about getting the coach fired; we have to play better” platitudes from the players in return. And three games under former assistant coach Mike Berube and it’s SSDD. It may actually be worse. The team’s scoring a bit better now with 11 goals in their last three games, but the defense has turned that effort into a 1-2 record.

The Blues know what’s wrong; all you have to do is read this piece by Tom Timmermann. Every single player says the exact same thing, and they’re right: the effort is shit. It’s not there.

“Just honestly, lack of effort,” defenseman Joel Edmundson said. “We were focused so much on our offense, we didn’t take care of our own D-zone. We let one guy score five goals. We shouldn’t be letting a team score five goals, let alone one guy. … So our D-zone was out of place tonight and it’s embarrassing.”

It’s odd, Joel, how the best hockey teams can multitask and have offense and defense at the same time. You know that you’re having problems when the team that just beat you is confused:

“I was pretty surprised that I was wide open and had the time to look where I’m shooting and kind of pick the spot,” he said. “So I think with that goal, I was pretty surprised how open I was.”

“I wouldn’t leave him wide open in the slot,” said Kyle Connor, who assisted on four of Laine’s goals. “I don’t know what’s going on over there, but he seems to just be finding the right holes and it seems like he’s always open too.”

Yes, so strange how the Blues’ defense is constantly incapable of defending against the best players in the NHL.

The effort doesn’t exist. It hasn’t existed since the start of the season, and the Blues (and their fans) shouldn’t confuse a solid game here or there with this team even coming close to getting back on the tracks. They have to do more than open up communication on defense. They have to feel the need to communicate in the first place. The first stretch of games this season set the tone for this club, and no random moral victory win is going to fix that if they’re not willing to examine what they did right in the win and do that again. There’s no consistency in drive, and I’m not sure if it’s because they’ve been conditioned to lose at this point or what. Booing fans is not a pleasant outcome, as Edmundson mentioned after the game. That feeling of shame is called a punishment, guys. It’s up to you if you want to continue wallowing in that or grow a pair of intrinsic motivators and fix the situation.

It remains to be seen if Berube is the guy to help them along in their quest for actual competent hockey. Physicality and toughness is something the Blues need a good dose of - it’s weird when you see Sammy Blais out there throwing hits, but keep it up - but unless it comes with a good dose of offense and competent defense, it means nothing.

I’d rather the Blues not emulate Berube’s playing career.