ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s October, I know. The Stanley Cup playoffs are six months away. But there’s something going on with this Blues team, between the coach and players, that has the makings of a special group.
Are the Blues playing their best hockey? Not at all. But they’re 6-2, leading the Western Conference… and I’m not the only one who’s noticed that coach Mike Yeo has this group excited to play HIS style of hockey.
Yeo’s team, so far, has a habit of letting teams back into games, yes. They’ve had some issues offensively from time to time. But they’ve also scored 13 goals in three games against Central Division foes. And no matter what is thrown at them, especially in the area of injuries, there is a different feel from this particular Blues team.
I asked Chris Kerber, the radio voice of the Blues who travels with the team, to put a finger on it.
“I’m going to tell you something about a vibe I got,” Kerber told me after the team landed in Las Vegas for Saturday’s game against the Golden Knights. “And I realize it’s a ‘vibe.’ But the team had a day off in Florida before playing the Panthers and they end up losing that game. And it was their worst game of the year out of the eight that they’ve played.
“So they’re going to go to the rink later today,” Kerber continued, “but you’re here in Las Vegas. And a lot of these guys have been here before. But it is a different feel when you come to a city for the first time and you realize we’re actually here to work and to play a hockey game. I just sense a different level… (with) a couple of guys saying (to other teammates): ‘Hey… you know what happened in Florida? We want to make sure that doesn’t happen here.’
“And I went: ‘Oh, my goodness,’” Kerber said. “That’s a different level of maturity, too. I’m excited to see what happens tomorrow night.”
Saturday night’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights is at 9:30 PM CT on KMOX.
By the way, I’m hearing the STL-LAS flights have been packed with Blues fans. If you’re one of them, keep a close eye on Yeo and look at the relationship his coaching staff has with the players during the game. The communication is up. The speed, which can always get better (and suffers from the loss of Robby Fabbri), is more of a factor than last year, too.
But it’s clearly Yeo’s team. He’s 28-10-2 as Blues coach. The players are responding and definitely not tuning him out.
There is something special happening, even before the fall weather hits St. Louis.