Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Bring your questions about the Blues and the NHL, and talk to Post-Dispatch hockey writer Tom Timmermann in a live chat starting at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

    Thank you one and all for joining us on a different day of the week and we plan to make it just as entertaining and informative as it is when we do it on Wednesdays. Or, if you don't usually find it entertaining and informative, then I hope it's better. 
    Jim is on a plane right now, headed for the West Coast, so here I am, for the umpteenth consecutive week. But good news! Next Wednesday, I'll be on a plane, so you'll get Jim back. 
    But until then, let's go.
    Schenn is back, Perron (presumably) coming soon. Show me your lines.
    With Schenn back, I can tell you the lines it looks like the Blues will use tomorrow:
    So Sanford comes out, which is what we thought all along when Schenn or Perron came back, and Blais is staying in. The biggest switch,of course, is that Schwartz is on what would seem to be the third line, with Sundqvist and Steen. Berube said that would be a good 200-foot line they could use both offensively and defensively. 
    In the past, I've advocated/proposed a second line centered by Thomas with Schwartz and Perron, (with Bozak then centering the third line) but the way the Schwartz has gone, the Blues may no longer be seeing that as an option until he starts scoring again and you can't blame them. 
    And with Perron not going on this trip, that's three more games he'll miss. 
    Tom Terrific, thanks for the chat. Gotta know: Is there any way the Blues blow this and don't make the playoffs? I'm not asking for a run to the Cup -- just something else to watch in April (and May?) besides 3 hour 47 minute baseball games polluted by 12 pitching changes.
  • Sure there's a way. If the offense doesn't perk up a bit, it's going to take a bunch of shutouts from Binnington to get them wins. And the West is so tightly packed that a four-game losing streak coupled with someone else's four-game win streak can flip flop everything. But I think the Blues schedule is conducive enough to getting the points they need, and the other teams' schedules are unconducive, if that's a word, to them getting points. The Blues analytics say the offense isn't as dominant as it had been, but it's still effective enough to win games. But pucks take bounces.
    Better coach in terms of game strategy: Yeo or Berube? Evidence?
  • I don't know that there's much of a difference in game strategy between the two. Someone earlier this season said what the Blues needed was a psychologist rather than a coach because they were mentally all out of whack, and that's what Berube has done. In terms of accountability and motivation, he seems to be doing a better job than Yeo did. Not that Yeo didn't scratch guys. He sat Bouwmeester and Maroon early in the season. But Berube has gotten more out of the team in ways that haven't had much to do with strategy.
    Jake, Jake, Jake, Jake, Jake ... what planet was he orbiting during that game the other night? Will this guy ever pull his head out and make a routine save when someone winds up to fire in a long shot?
    Just when it looks like Allen is putting together good games, along comes Carolina. Maybe that's the result of not playing as much, that play in the corner, but Allen not playing much is the new reality. He makes a lot of routine saves, and a lot of tough saves, but there always seems to be that soft goal, or that weird goal, that happens to him and no one else.
    The difference between last years defense and this years defense IMO is we are giving up too many point blank shots and forcing our goaltenders to make incredible saves. The shots I’m talking about are 6-10 feet away with no one guarding them because you have three defenders chasing two and sometimes one guy. I wish they would go back to the old scheme because I think they were better defensively. Can you explain to me why the organization things this years strategy is better than last years. Please don’t tell me that it is virtually the same. I’ve heard that company line and I don’t believe it.
    The Blues are on I think their fourth different defensive coach in as many seasons. So that alone is going to cause problems that you didn't have back in the day when Brad Shaw was there for what seemed like a decade. So even if there aren't big changes, there are some changes. You'll notice that the number of incredible saves that Blues goalies make is way down. Much of that is because Binnington is a positionally strong goalie. He gets in the right place that the puck hits him in the chest. You talk about three defenders chasing two or one guy. That's not a strategy. That's a mistake, and when the Blues got away from doing that, their defense got a lot better. When the team talks about playing better as a group, that's what they're talking about. The puck goes in the corner and three guys don't say, I'd better go get it because no one else will. That was a problem in the past. Less so now.
    Will the blues hire coach Q back?
    At the current rate, no. As I said on Twitter this morning, imagine a world where the Blues fire Mike Yeo, hire Joel Quenneville and everything goes exactly the same. They win 11 in a row, get back in a playoff spot, are talked about as a team that can make a deep run. You would start hearing Quenneville and God in the same sentence, and Quenneville would probably be talked about in more glowing terms. ("Why can't God be more like Joel Quenneville?") So Berube has done all those things and he deserves credit for that. He gets along with the players and the players have responded to him and they're winning games. If they falter down the stretch and don't make the playoffs, maybe the scenario changes.
    Thanks for the answer. I assumed that they meant to have so many guys chasing the puck.
    When the Blues won 11 in a row, they were much better at having someone in front of the net to clear pucks and get rebounds. At times, it looked like they had an extra guy on the ice they were so effective.
    TT, I’m concerned about Perron and Schenn’s availability for the remainder of the season. I wish they would specify these injuries a little more now than just saying they are upper or lower body injuries. I’m sure the word gets out about these types of injuries so I don’t know what the big secret is. The paper says Schenn will go on the trip out west but Perron is still a maybe even though he has been cleared to play. I’m starting to wonder about his heart.
    Schenn will be back and should be fine unless he gets hurt again. The fact that Perron hasn't come back and won't play this weekend has to make you wonder about how much longer he'll be out. He's at almost the seven-week mark on being out, and while he looks good on the ice, he feels he's not ready to return. Considering how long Perron missed earlier in his career with a concussion, and that this injury is believed to be a concussion, he knows what's going on and if he's waking up every morning with a headache, or however the symptoms manifest themselves, that's no way to live and he needs to take care of that. There are some injuries you can play through. A concussion isn't one of them.
    If Berube is coach next year, what is Kyrou’s future? I trust that Berube isn’t playing him for a reason. What does Kyrou need to do to earn playing time in the nhl?
  • Armstrong determines who's on the roster, though Berube and the coaching staff obviously has input. If Armstrong puts him on the roster, then Berube gets to determine his ice time. Kyrou turns 21 in May. He is still young, is still learning the game, and fitting him into the Blues top nine this season wouldn't be easy. Spending this season in San Antonio is good for him, and shouldn't hold back his career at all. Again, he'll be 21 next season and have played one year of professional hockey. The Blues will be looking at him as a top nine forward next season and he'll have his chance to earn it in camp. And coaches always like it when you play as strongly on the defensive end as on the offensive end.
    When Perron comes back who is going to sit? Maroon or Blais? Blais has looked great and aggressive?
    Blais would seem the likely candidate, just based on the experience you would want in a stretch run and the ability to use Maroon on the power play. But Blais' aggressive play has certainly earned him a callback and he'll be on the ice again on Wednesday vs. Anaheim. Maroon has been playing better, probably as well as he has all season after his painfully slow start, but there is definitely room for improvement. 
    But who knows when Perron comes back? 
    Tom, I was at the Dallas game last Saturday night. I observed a few things. Schwartz’s skates his butt off, Maroon, not so much. If fact I would go as far as to say Maroon probably cost us the game when he ran Bishop early in the game. Dallas retaliates by running Binnington and MacEachern draws a penalty setting up the go ahead goal. It was very disappointing.
    That's a bit of dot connecting you're doing there. After the Dallas guys went after Maroon for touching Bishop, MacEachern felt he had to do the same when the Stars made contact with Binnington. MacEachern admitted Monday he probably went too far in defending Binnington. Berube thought after no call was made at the other end, the MacEachern call should have been a four-on-four. Pietrangelo said it doesn't matter whether it was good or bad penalty by MacEachern, they still have to kill that penalty. That's what they have to do, and they didn't. It was a nice move by Benn, by the way, who fired a no-look shot at Binnington. Benn looked away and Binnington went with his eyes and not the puck, which led to the goal. Binnington said it was a lesson learned for him. So it was educational all around. Alas, it came in a loss.
    Live in Dallas. and watched the game on Fox SW. At the start of the second period Stars announce Daryl Ray went off on a rant against Binnington. Called him arrogant, said other goalies and players around the league were noticing and talking about his arrogance. Quote" athletic arrogance is okay, but pure arrogance is unwarranted - especially after just 1 good month. He needs to have his balloon popped". I never heard anything like that about Binnington – Have you?
    I didn't hear what Reaugh said, but it's possible that Binnington's few-words demeanor, which is mostly an on-camera persona, comes off the wrong way. To say Binnington is arrogant is wrong. But he's confident, and it seems to me you want your goalie to be confident.
    We have one really good number1 line. Then we have 3 number 4 lines masquerading as a 2 and 3 line. Look at Tampa Bay, Toronto, Winnipeg. Uhhh we don’t measure up! No way we get to the finals this year. I keep saying this we need younger players under 23 coming up Klostin, Kyrou Thomas and a trade for Kapenan after the Leafs choke in the playoffs. Younger and faster !
    Certainly the struggles of Schwartz this season has minimized the Blues ability to have two good lines. I don't think they have 3 No. 4 lines, but they may have two No. 3 lines at this point, maybe three if you consider the effectiveness of the fourth line. If Schwartz was producing the way he has in the past and Perron was healthy, that would be six pretty good forwards to put on your top two lines.
    I think it could be very interesting to compare tape of Schwartz from early last season versus this season. What is he doing differently? He doesnt seem to be nearly as successuflul coming away from a board scrum wiith the puck as in the past. And he seems to have lost all confidence in his ability to put the puck in the net. Could it be a lingering injury or has he just lost technique for some reason? Is anyone analyzing this?
    I'm sure the Blues have analyzed it in every way possible, and today, they moved him down to the third line. Schwartz was playing extremely well at the start of last season. Last season, he scored on 15.3 percent of his shots on goal. This season, he's at 4.2. If he was scoring at the same rate as last season, he would have 22 goals so far this season based on the number of shots he's had. So he's getting the shots, he's just not getting things out of them, and he should probably have more. The theory is that once he started scoring goals, they would start coming, but he's had a few and it hasn't changed much of anything. The injuries he's had the past two seasons seem to be gone, though as we saw with Tarasenko, sometimes when you think you're back, you're not really back. But this season's hand injury didn't keep him out that long. Has it affected how he holds his stick or how hard he can shoot? It's been three months since he came back. Personnel wise, it remains the most nagging issue on this team.
    You say maroon is playing as well as he has all season, he brings nothing, sure he holds onto the puck but that never leads to anything as he passes the puck to the other team, he plays little defense and just overall does not contribute much at all. Now he’s on the second line? If he was a rookie he would be scratched or sent down, that’s not accountability.
  • The Blues did scratch him a few times midseason and it looked like he was going to be a healthy scratch for the rest of the way until some injuries forced him back in the lineup and then his game picked up. Had it not, and had the Blues not started winning, Maroon seemed certain to be traded at the deadline. If they scratched him now, it would be to put in Sanford, who hasn't brought much over the past few weeks either, or Fabbri, who the coaching staff is obviously hesitant to play. (His minus-4 in Carolina was enough to have them call up Blais.) If the Blues are fully healthy, Maroon isn't on the top two lines -- he's probably on the fourth -- but at the moment, with Perron out and Schwartz struggling, their options are limited. And as physical as Blais or MacEachern may be, I don't think they bring the physical presence of Maroon.
    By the way, while we've been chatting, the San Antonio Rampage had a day game against Chicago and won 2-1 in a shootout. Kyrou had the lone goal in regulation. Laleggia and Poganski scored in the shootout, for which Coreau was in goal for the Rampage. San Antonio is in seventh in their division, three points out of a playoff spot
    Yes but Schwartz is on the third line behind Maroon, even as off as Schwartz has been in almost every single metric he is better than Maroon.
    The Blues are trying to do something to get Schwartz started, and his presence on higher lines while Schenn was out, rather than getting him going, seemed to drag down the other lines. I Think the theory now with Schwartz is, he can't score, but he can still go after the puck and get it, so we'll try to use that as best we can.
    While we have a break in the action here, here's Jim's story (which has my byline on it for some reason, though we're really interchangeable) on Schenn's return:

    Updated: Schenn returns to Blues lineup; Perron practices but he's not on the trip

    stltoday.comSchenn has been practicing regularly with the team for a week or so, but what was different about Tuesday's practice is that he was back on a line with Ryan
    If Chief is named full time head coach, due you believe it would be for a 2 year deal or 2+?
    If I recall, the Blues gave Yeo three years (plus one as an assistant), so I'm sure Berube would want the same. Giving him less sends a message that you don't think he can do it. And as Armstrong said when he signed his extension, just because you get a contract for x years doesn't mean you'll be on the job that long. It just means you'll be getting paid that long.
    Happy Tuesday Blues Fans!

    I saw some pretty tired Blues' players Friday and Saturday. I am hoping the extra day or two off will bring more energy and goals.

    I don't see anything special with Maroon. Yes he's big but no touch around the net. One and done. I'm sure Army will bring Kyrou up after the AHL season is over, unless there are injuries. The kid knows how to light the lamp.
    I would expect to see Kyrou back if the Blues are playing after the Rampage are done. And probably Butler and Schmaltz. Thorburn would be a candidate since he would be in St. Louis anyway. And Husso, assuming he's healthy. 
    How much any of them plays is another matter.
    The Blues hope the rest they've had will do them some good. February was a rough month.
    So plenty of folks were dogging Schenn all year compared to last year and then he goes out and the 1st line production drops significantly. Is he really the key?
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