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Blues showing frustration over disappointing start

Tarasenko apology to fans, combative practice latest signs of tension

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues expected to be in a better position 28 games into the season.

At 10-14-4, the Blues are closer to last place than they are a position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Monday, the frustrations spilled over during a tense and combative practice in the wake of a 6-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday at Enterprise Center. 

"There's no consistency in our game," forward Vladimir Tarasenko said after the game Sunday. "I apologize to all of our fans. We can't play at home like this. It's unacceptable. I don't know how to fix it. We'll work on it, but it doesn't work for now."

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: "I apologize to all our fans. We can���t play at home like this." Hear from Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen after the game. #stlblues

Frustration was on display Monday when defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Zach Sanford got into a fight toward the end of practice during a battle drill in front of the net.

"Mentally, I think guys are at a point right now where they're so frustrated with how things have gone," defenseman Chris Butler said. "... It's a fragile group and it's hard to go out there and just play and have fun and enjoy the game when things aren't going your way.

"How do you get back to that point? I'm not sure, but it's something that we're going to continue to stress is that mental toughness. You have to show up every single day, every single shift and find a way to contribute in a positive way."

With 24 points, St. Louis is one ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks (9-17-5, 23 points), who are in last place in the NHL. The Blues are 11 points out of the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference, held by Vegas Golden Knights (17-14-1).

St. Louis fired coach Mike Yeo on Nov. 20. Craig Berube took over and is 3-5-1 in his nine games.

Video: Bortuzzo and Sanford tussle at Blues practice

There have been bright spots during the season. A 1-0 victory at the Winnipeg Jets on Friday and road wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-1 on Oct. 20) and Colorado Avalanche (3-2 in overtime on Nov. 30), as well as a 6-2 home victory against the Nashville Predators (Nov. 23), were uplifting. Those victories had the Blues believing their offseason investments were starting to pay dividends.

he Blues signed forwards David Perron (four years, $16 million), Tyler Bozak (three years, $15 million) and Pat Maroon (one year, $1.75 million) as free agents and center Ryan O'Reilly was obtained in a trade that sent three players and two draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres on July 1.

"Listen, there's 54 games left," Maroon said Monday. "I'm a firm believer in comebacks and comeback years and some way to figure this out, but we've got to focus on one game at a time. Yesterday was a good opportunity to capitalize and move up in the standings with Vancouver and we didn't capitalize on it, so we've got to find ways to play hard tomorrow, put a good game together and then go from there."

A four-game homestand continues Tuesday against the Florida Panthers (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-F, NHL.TV).

The Blues have allowed five or more goals in six of their 16 home games (6-8-2), and in the past four games after a win have been outscored 24-6. The last time they allowed five or more goals at least six times at home was 2006-07 when it happened nine times.

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