ST. LOUIS, Mo – Just two days after the Blues were eliminated from playoff contention by the Blackhawks the pain has not worn off. In fact, the reality of the disappointment has sunken in even more. GM Doug Armstrong spoke this morning about what went wrong and how it gets fixed.
He speaks from frustration. He speaks of “squandering an opportunity” that does not come very often in the NHL. Most importantly, he speaks about letting the fans down who really believed in them this season.
“It’s good to be here in the sense that you expect better from us,” Armstrong said. “You expect us to be better. We expect to be better. Making the playoffs is no longer good enough. There are some franchises that are losing in the first round that had good years. We’re not one of them.”
Armstrong refuses to place blame on any one particular player. Goalie Ryan Miller, who was acquired midseason from Buffalo, gets a lot of attention for failing to provide a dominant effort. The GM points to the fact Miller isn’t responsible for the Blues going 2-29 on the power play. He reiterates the Blues “win as a team and lose as a team”.
More than anything, though, it’s something embedded in the team’s DNA that he has a problem with.
“We need that killer instinct,” Armstrong said. “When you have a team down 2-0 (in a series) you need to take the knife, jam it through their eye into their brain and kill them. We don’t do that.
“I look at the regular season success this team has had over and I think our point total is probably in the top three or four in the NHL in that time frame. So we’re doing some things correctly. But we’re not doing enough correctly to win in April, May and June. Quite honestly I got to stop worrying about May. We got to get out of April first,” Armstrong said.
Where do the Blues go from here then? All Armstrong will say on a personnel matter is goalie Jake Allen will be one of the two goalies in St. Louis next season. He won’t commit to Allen as the #1 but he also says whoever his partner is will have to hold him off for starts.
Armstrong says acquiring star players like the Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby’s of the world are very difficult. Those types of players are not on the free agent market anyway.
So how and where the Blues get better for next season remains a pretty big mystery.