ST. LOUIS — To pull or not to pull a goalie?
It's a common question for teams that trail late in games, within a goal or two usually, to pull their goalie in favor of a sixth attacker to try and tie up a game.
For the Blues, that notion has been a bitter pill to swallow.
They've now allowed 13 empty-net goals this season, including four in each of the three losses on the recent road trip, two of which came Saturday at Winnipeg. They've not yet tied a game this season with an extra attacker but have scored twice to get within a goal.
Why has it been problematic?
"It’s tough. If you look around the league, there’s a lot of empty net goals," Berube said. "Teams get it and fire for the empty net now. That’s created a lot more goals that go the other way. I’m not letting our guys off the hook. We’ve got to be better. I think we can be better and we’re going to focus on being better at it. I don’t have the exact right answer for it because there are too many different scenarios that come up in a game and a lot of them are different from other ones. What you’ve got to do is you’ve got to be aggressive and you’ve got to have numbers around the puck and you’ve got to win those battles. You’ve got six and they’ve got five, you need to win those battles. We can be a little bit more direct in what we’re trying to do. We’ve been too cute sometimes. That’s not going to get the job done."
Seems far too often the Blues haven't utilized that extra attacker by either possessing the puck or being able to maintain zone time. And as Berube said, no excuses.
"You should win that puck battle every time," Berube said. "Certain situations like that come to mind. And you’ve got to be aggressive. When they’ve got the puck, you’ve got to go at them and get it back. They’re going to shoot for the empty net so you’ve got to be on top of people."
Blues fans were particularly frustrated Saturday when the Blues seemingly had all the momentum after goals by Schenn and Ryan O'Reilly to cut Winnipeg's lead to 3-2, but Berube pulled Jordan Binnington with just over two minutes to play and the Jets were able to ice the game, 5-2.
"Depending on how many goals you’re down, I go by time," Berube said. "I normally pull a goalie with two minutes to go if we’re down by one. I like to get him out that early if I can. It depends on the situation. If the play’s still going on, where we’re at. What guys are on the ice, that’s all going to play into it. Do you have a faceoff, how much time is left? There’s 2 minutes and 15 seconds left, I may yank him because we have a face-off and there’s a good chance we’re going to win the draw."