Welcome to the first Blues chat of training camp. Or traning camp 2.0. Barring an outbreak of COVID-19, it looks like the Blues will be playing the Chicago Blackhawks in their one and only exhibition game of the re-start two weeks from tonight in Edmonton. We're at your service. What's on your minds today? . .
We're still working on all the details, but we're trying to make it happen. Yes, there would be a 14-day quarantine, and if all goes well, I would be arriving this Saturday in Edmonton.
There's no reason to think that Binnington wont play well again. If anything, I think his play could be more even this postseason than it was, in say, the Stanley Cup Final a year ago, when he had a couple of clunkers against Boston. I think the hunger and motivation is still there in Binnington, the coaching staff and players have all kinds of confidence in him. And if Binnington does stumble, I think the Blues have more confidence in Allen this time around than they did a year ago. Allen was impressive, to say the least, in the No. 2 goalie role this season.
There are some moving parts here. Remember, not just Pietrangelo but also Dunn have contracts that expire after this season. (Although Dunn is a restricted free agent, without arbitration rights.) So what happens with Faulk also depends to a degree on whether Pietrangelo and Dunn are wearing the Bluenote next season and beyond. I would also think that sooner or later, the Blues would want to work Mikkola and Perunovich onto the varsity roster. I'll repeat what I've said in past chats: If Faulk had scored maybe three or four ore goals, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion. I think he's probably had a C+ or B- seasoed ; he certainly hasnt looked like a 3-time all-star. He has some physicality to his game. It's not easy to bump him off the puck. He's probably not as good a skater as many of the other Blues' D-men, but I don't think he's a slouch. He's had a few brain farts on the ice, but I don't think it's been an inordinate number. If Pietrangelo and/or Dunn return, I could see the Blues exposing him to Seattle in the expansion draft.
What should we expect out of Scandella when the season restarts? Obviously, he looked fine before the shutdown -- but that was only 11 games. Hasn't he been just an average player overall in his career?
True, 11 games is a small sample size. But fit is very important in hockey, and Scandella seems to have blended in seamlessly with Parayko. He's a dependable player, who seems to be positionally sound _ you know, usually in the right place at the right time. As to whether he's been an average player, I'll let those who weren't covering football until the summer of 2017 make that judgement.
In my advancing years, I'm pretty much a hermit on the road anyway. Go to the morning skate/practice, write a blog, then work on notebook and main story for the next day. And on game nights, obviously go to the game. On game days, I'll try to slip in a quick nap _ 30-45 minutes _ after I get back from the morning skate and write the blog. I usually get room serivce anyway, only this time they'll just knock and leave it outside the door. Of course there will be Zoom calls _ and I can participate in the Blues' Zoom calls from Edmonton. Mr. Excitement, right? It wasn't always that way.
A team can't claim a player in the expansion draft unless he's under contract. So there will be no wink-wink hijinks here.
From my vantage point, I'm not sure Pietrangelo is re-signing. At the very least, it certainly looks like he wants to see what's out there on the market. Having a flat cap for a couple of years might be an inducement to make a bridge deal. But it looks like it may take a few years for the NHL to recover from the coronavirus financial hit. By then, Pietrangelo will be 32 and there might be fewer teams willing to go long-term with him _ you know, six years or more. Would he sign long-term for as "little" as $8 million a year in this environment? Tough call.
Reader: I know Schwartz is productive. But he's streaky and will be due a pay raise when his contract's up. I say move on.
JT: He's one of my favorite Blues to watch. A Tasmanian devil out there. Sometimes he frustrates you, for sure, with some of his moves. But he's a fast skater, will work the corners, and isn't afraid to work close to the net. When you're standing next to him in the room for an interview _ something that obviously doesn't happen in these pandemic times _ it's surprising how small he is. Sure he's streaky. But do the Blues win the Cup last year if he doesn't have 12 goals in the first three series? I say keep him.
Reader: Are you surprised Scandella fit in so quickly?
JT: In a word: Yes. OK, I'll add a few more words. The transition was much smoother than Faulk's. For Scandella, it was almost as if he'd played with the Blues for a year or two. Again, I know it was just 11 games.
65 degrees right now, with light showers.
Certainly possible; Gunnarsson has one year left on his contract after 2019-20; Bortuzzo has two. It seems like Gunnarsson has moved past Bortuzzo in the pecking order _ in part because he's a lefty and in part because he works so well with Pietrangelo.
A chance, but maybe not in the Blues' bubble since they're limited to 52 people.
Reader: What did you have for lunch?
JT: Wife brought home a chicken sandwich.
I have not. But with so many Blues being from Canada, I'd have to think there was a comfort level from being in the home country _ even if they're restricted to life in the bubble. In terms of the coronavirus, I'm sure they have a greater degree of comfort knowing they're north of the border. The COVID-19 rates are very low in Edmonton. Personally, I would've been nervous if the Western Conference hub city was Las Vegas.
Reader: I read an article on NHL prospects in which Klim Kostin wasn't even rated among the top 50. What do you think?
JT: I guess the main thing that gives you pause is that Kostin's production hasn't been great in his time in the AHL, although it picked up over the second half of the AHL's pandemic-shortened season. Granted it was a tough, tough transition for Kostin coming to America in 2017 at age 18 and speaking next to no English. I remember, writing a year or so ago, that he had to enlist the help of Chris Butler just to order a pizza in his first season in San Antonio. Kostin showed some flashes in his cup of coffee with the Blues earlier this season _ flashes that showed he potentially could be an effective NHL power forward. Consistency is a key. You've got to be able to play at that level night in, night out. There is some thought, too, among the Blues' personnel brass, that he will be more effective _ and productive _ in the more structured environment of the NHL.
Right now, I'd say Salt and Smoke.
Perunovich isn't the biggest guy around, so I think the better comp might be more along the lines of Boston's Torey Krug. Fiesty, plays bigger than the his size. Good skater. Good playmaker. There are a lot of smaller defensemen making their mark in the NHL these days. I don't think it's overstating it to say the Blues are very excited to see what Perunovich can do at this level.
Right now, based on what we saw in the first two practice days of Phase 3, the third line has consisted of Blais-Thomas-Bozak. Steen has skated on what would be a fourth line with Sundqvist at center at MacEachern on the other wing. What about Barbashev? He has been skating with Kostin and Poganski. I think this was done in part because the Blues needed him at center with the split squad practices. Also, and this is more an "educated" guess, I think maybe they're working MacEachern with Sundqvist and Steen for the time when Barbashev will be back in St. Louis when his wife has their baby. She's due in mid-August.
Regular-season rules will apply for round-robin games: 5-minute 3-on-3 OT, followed by shootout.
I guess I'll say Philadelphia. I know it was just one game, but they were very impressive to me against the Blues in St. Louis this season.