Mike Yeo had a rough first season as the top coach at the Blues helm, one which started out with a bang and would up fizzling to a dowsed flame for a number of reasons.
Take your pick: The top players didn’t play like the top players for long spurts. Jake Allen’s January demons came back. The power play looked like it couldn’t have scored on a rec league team on most nights. Among other things…And Yeo is sharing his part of the blame.
The Blues head coach recently visited with ‘The Fast Lane’ for an exclusive 101ESPN interview, in which he praised his coaching staff on their tactical, in-game adjustments, but also said he needs to make better personnel decisions.
“I think where we can do a little bit better job is personnel adjustments,” Yeo said. “Maybe this guy’s not going, maybe we flip him out, and that goes for the power play and our five-on-five play.
“When you have this opportunity; you miss the playoffs and you look in the mirror and everybody’s really forced to look at themselves and say ‘what could I do differently? What could I do better?’ And for me, personally, that’s one of the areas that I’m looking at saying that’s where I need to be better at next year.”
Yeo also chatted about Vladimir Tarasenko’s performance, which he was not displeased with, but would like to see the star winger find that next gear elite NHL forwards possess.
“You look at his point production, it’s not that far off from what it was. His goal production was down a little bit, but I don’t think that’s what we should be sitting here saying,” Yeo said. “I don’t want to say too much because Vladdy has just had his surgery and I haven’t had the time to spend with him sitting down and Army has to sit down with him, but he’s at a point in his career where we don’t want to say ‘this is what you’ve done in the past, can you get to there?’ We have to find a way to push him to a new level.
“And part of that level is just him being a huge core piece of our team and a leader for our team. And whatever he has to do to help get us out of these times where we’re struggling. Whatever he has to do to help our power play get better when it’s struggling. These are things he needs to find a way to get past as a player and it’s not an easy thing, but he’s at that point in his career where we need him to be and we know that he’s ready for.”
The head coach touched on several topics in the talk, including where Jake Allen stands with the club, which you can find excerpts from below as well as the full interview audio.
On Jake Allen’s season and future:
“Jake’s season was unfortunately similar to last year and is probably going to be defined by that stretch through the middle. He got off to great start; probably helped us overachieve I would say at the start of the year because he was playing at such a high level.
“And then, obviously, when he got into that stretch where things weren’t going as well, there was a huge focus on him and understandably so. Now, at that time we weren’t scoring goals which made it worse. We couldn’t cover up for any mistakes. We didn’t really give him a chance to get out of it by having a game where we go score four or five goals.
“But there’s no question that Jake’s level of play dropped at that time and then he was able to find it and pick it up later in the year. I think next year’s a big year for Jake. He knows that. That has been expressed to him and there are no secrets there that he’s got to be ready to put a complete season together. We have got to make sure that when we have these lulls or these dips that we get out of it way quicker than what we did this year.”
On the power play problems:
“The one thing that really never changed is the top unit. I think we have to get way more production from our second unit. Any good power play in the league, if you want to be in the top ten you need two good units and that’s one thing that this team has always had and with that you get more competition. I didn’t think we had enough competition and I also don’t think that I did a good enough job as head coach as far as we just kind of gave it to our top guys, sort of our leading scorers.
“For the most part we gave that group the chance to run with it and really the power comes down to five guys on the ice having chemistry together. Having the same mindset. And there were just too many times where we just didn’t have that.
“That’s not to say we’re going to rip all those guys out of the power play, but certainly we have to look at that and make sure it’s a group who work together and make sure we can assemble two strong groups.”