By Jeremy Rutherford (The Athletic)
TEMPE, Ariz. — It’s hard for Craig Berube to believe that not even a calendar year after competing with Stanley Cup champion Colorado in last year’s playoffs, the Blues are in this spot.
Twenty games left beginning Tuesday in Arizona, and after that, well, it’ll be a long offseason.
“I didn’t think we really pulled together as a team like we wanted to,” Berube said after Monday’s practice at Mullett Arena on the campus of Arizona State University. “There were a lot of different things that went on throughout the season with a lot of free agents and signing of contracts and things like that … I didn’t feel like we grabbed ahold of anything.
“You figure you’re going to be a similar type of team as last year, and it just didn’t work out that way. We didn’t play with the same speed and focus and passion. We thought it was going to come together, and it never did.”
So as promised by Blues general manager Doug Armstrong after selling at the trade deadline, the experimenting has begun.
Newcomers Jakub Vrana, acquired in a trade with Detroit Friday, and Kasperi Kapanen, a waiver-wire pickup from Pittsburgh, are expected to be on Brayden Schenn’s wings against the Coyotes. Calle Rosen is expected to sit out a sixth straight game as the Blues continue to look at youngster Tyler Tucker. And at some point soon, the plan to use Pavel Buchnevich at center could become permanent.
“We’re going to retool it, or whatever you want to call it — that’s part of the game,” Berube said. “As a coach, you’ve got to work with your management group and understand what the organization needs, and that’s what we’re doing now. We’re trying to develop and see some new faces and see where they fit in, and that’s my job. It can be satisfying because what you’re going to see is growth, and the team gets better and better.”