How quickly things have changed for the St. Louis Blues in the last two weeks.
On Feb. 16, the Blues had beaten the Vancouver Canucks for a sixth straight win and a seventh win in eight games since firing Ken Hitchcock and naming Mike Yeo as the replacement head coach ahead of schedule.
In terms of results, the Blues had seen the desired impact in the immediate wake of the coaching change.
Since then? The Blues have now lost five in a row, as their skid, which has once again put them outside of a wild card spot in the Western Conference, continued Friday in a 3-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
“We’re trying to build more pace into our game. We’re seeing less consistency in our game lately in the four losses,” said Yeo prior to Friday’s game. “Just not enough in there to guarantee wins.”
Blake Wheeler opened the scoring in the first period and finished it with just over a minute remaining in the third period. Mixed in there was Brian Little’s empty net goal that put this one out of reach for St. Louis. Making matters worse, Alex Pietrangelo crashed hard into the boards after losing the race to the puck with Little.
The Blues remain a single point back of L.A. for the final wild card spot, but with a game in hand, too. So the old adage of controlling their own destiny does still apply, but with less than 20 games now remaining in their schedule, a prolonged losing skid can quickly squash that.
The Blues are in Colorado to face the last-place Avalanche on Sunday.
Blues name Larry Robinson as new senior consultant to hockey operations
The Blues made the announcement Thursday, revealing that Robinson has joined the organization as a senior consultant to hockey operations.
Based on the comments of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, it sounds like Robinson will work closely at times with head coach Mike Yeo. It could also further help the development of an already impressive defenseman in Colton Parayko.
“Bringing someone like Larry in, I just think, helps our hockey operations from top to bottom,” said Armstrong, per the Blues website.
“His ability to talk to Mike Yeo about coaching — that’s one area that we don’t have on our staff is a former head coach. You can think you know what Mike’s going through but I don’t know what Mike’s going through. Larry does. So he’s going to be able to relate to him on a lot of the things that he’s going to go through.
“He’s coming in as a consultant. I can learn a lot from him, our assistant coaches can, Parayko can. There’s not an area of our hockey operations he can’t touch to make us a better group.”
According to reports, there is substantial interest from other teams in Matt Duchene. That said, he remains with the Colorado Avalanche for now and will, it appears, make his preseason debut Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
Tough news for the Montreal Canadiens and prospect defenseman Noah Juulsen on Thursday.
The Habs have announced that the 2015 first-round pick is expected to be sidelined six weeks after suffering a fractured foot on Monday.
The Habs selected Juulsen with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft following his 52-point regular season with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.
This past spring, Juulsen appeared in two playoff games for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. He turned 20 years old in April and it seemed like the Habs were going to give him a serious look to make the NHL club out of training camp.