Greetings. Since we last spoke, I've been to Ottawa for the first time in my life. Got Blues questions? Now is the time, this is the place.
It would certainly look that way for this season, though all it would take would be one, maybe two guys, getting banged up and he'd be in. But as long as everyone's healthy, it wouldn't seem as if he would play. But he'll be around next season. The Blues aren't going to give up on him and there's an acceptance within the organization that after missing so much time, it would take a bit to get back up to speed. The shoulder injury was a double whammy for him.
Not until they have clinched third place in the Central, and with Dallas two points back, that won't come until the very end unless the Stars hit some potholes. It's very likely the Blues would get Nashville in the first round, but if they drop to a wild card spot, then you're looking at Winnipeg or whoever wins the Pacific. It's going to be tough to get second now, but it's not out of the question. That's another thing they would chase.
Yes, though with two sets of back-to-backs left, Allen will get at least two starts. But Binnington's play, and the fact the team for whatever reason plays better in front of him, will probably keep him in goal. Binnington does need to watch his play with the puck. That's got him in more trouble than any of his play in goal over the past few games. Berube said this morning that's something that's got to be better and something they have talked to him about. He also stressed improved communication between the skaters and the goalie so he's aware of what's going on around him. And if the Blues get locked into a playoff spot, then Allen will get a game or two, depending.
He wasn't getting around the net as much. He was shooting from further out. And the arm injury he had earlier probably took a little bit off his shot. He was putting a lot of shots straight into the goalie's midsection, seldom requiring him to do a whole lot. I ran the numbers a week or so ago and if had the same shooting percentage he had a year ago, he'd have been at something like 22 goals this season. He had one of the worst shooting percentages on the team. It was also clear he had lost some of his confidence, based on the number of shots he didn't take. He passed up on a good scoring chance early last night that had pretty much the whole arena urging him to shoot. If his confidence is up, that will be a good step.
The Blues have shown that when their Big Four -- O'Reilly, Tarasenko, Schenn and Perron -- are going, they have an offense that's tough to stop. For me, playoffs are all about goaltending. Get a hot goalie and you're golden. So if Binnington keeps going the way he has, and the Blues keep playing defense in front of him the way they have, that bodes well. Because good goaltending relaxes the pressure on the offense. It may be more agonizing to watch those games, but it's easier to win when you don't have to score six goals.
It's another interesting time to play the Lightning because, having clinched the Presidents Trophy, they have nothing to play for right now and with the playoffs still a ways off, motivation could be a factor. The Vegas game should be something, because the Golden Knights are playing extremely well right now.
I don't know, but then, I'm usually in an elevator heading downstairs when that's happening, so there could be lions and tigers and dragons on the ice during the three star announcements and I wouldn't know about it. Pietrangelo was in the dressing room waiting for us when they opened the doors.
Unless Allen asks for a trade, I see him being around next season. As well as Binnington has played this season, the history of rookie goalies playing out of their minds is just erratic enough that I can't see the team going all in on Binnington just yet, but he's certainly going to be goalie 1A or 1B at the start of next season, but they'll want someone who has been down the road before to play alongside him. So if the Blues traded Allen, they would want someone somewhat similar to Allen in return. They wouldn't be trying to get a career backup like Chad Johnson, and they wouldn't be plunging into the free agent market for a big name. So unless there's another young-ish goalie who also needs a change of scenery, a move may be difficult. And Husso is hurt again and may be out the rest of the season in San Antonio.
Arizona, though Colorado is making a case for itself. Every game the rest of the way for Minnesota is against a playoff team. For a team that's struggling, that's not good. Arizona has a reasonably cooperative schedule.
A month ago, I'd have put the probability at zero. Now, it's significantly higher. Berube said today that the coaching felt Maroon has been had bad luck all season, and that is finally starting to change. The guy keeps scoring goals. Jeff Gordon asked me on the podcast a few weeks ago about things the Blues needed down the stretch, and I pointed to Maroon scoring as one of those things. Maroon is at an age where he's unlikely to get a lot of offers around the league; he's part of that hockey middle class that is increasingly frozen out. To that end, the Blues may be able to get him at a cheap price, which greatly increases his chances of being kept. The Blues will need to clear a few roster spots for forwards like Kyrou and maybe Kostin next season. But right now, Maroon is a commodity unto himself. None of those other guys play a Maroon type game. I'd say it's still less than 50 percent he's back, but a long playoff run could change that, assuming he plays a part in it.
The Blues have played better against Nashville this season, wining four in a row, though it seems to me on several occasions they caught the Predators on the back end of a back-to-back and got Saros instead of Rinne, though the two have pretty equal numbers this season.
When Edmundson comes back, he's in and Del Zotto is out. Whether they would keep Edmundson with Pietrangelo like they did before or let him ease back in with Bortuzzo on the third pairing, I don't know. The injury has led to Dunn being with Pietrangelo and logging more minutes and getting tougher assignments. It was interesting last night when we asked Berube about the Oilers wraparound goal, before pointing out what Binnington did or didn't do, he pointed out what Del Zotto should have done. The impression I got was that Del Zotto wasn't up to speed on the defensive system and did the wrong thing. So with a unit that has worked well together the second half of the season, I see that unit staying together. Del Zotto will be odd man out, and when Gunnarsson is back, he'll probably be another odd man out.
There have been a few goals, and last night saw one of them, where we weren't sure right away if Maroon had touched a puck on the way in for the goal or it was just his presence in front that made something happen. That's something that was missing from the Blues earlier in the season.
I think there's a good chance for the Blues to sign Schenn, assuming he wants to. He's not going to get massive contract offers from other teams, so his next contract won't be all that different from the $5.125 million AAV he has now. He's not getting Tarasenko type money. So if the Blues make him a deal with enough years and a bit of a raise, that would seem to be a good situation for Schenn and the Blues could sign him before he goes on the market. If the Blues are going to try to sign anybody early, Schenn would be the guy. He checks a lot of boxes and the Blues know what they're getting.
It would probably be brought up more if the Blues didn't have guys that could easily step in. Edmundson has also had an up and down season, getting healthy scratched three times in January. But he was certainly playing well with Pietrangelo before he got injured and made Pietrangelo play better as well. As I mentioned before, it will be interesting to see how they arrange the D when he comes back. Do they put him back on the top pairing with Pietrangelo or keep Dunn there and put him on the pairing with Bortuzzo?