Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

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

    Greetings one and all and welcome to the weekly Blues chat. Jim insisted on going on the Western Canada trip, which while it does include a trip to Vancouver, the San Diego of Canada, it also includes Edmonton, where the temperature today was apparently 6 Fahrenheit. I suppose we could say all is going well with the Blues, as they've won five in a row and seven out of eight, but it's hard to say any of those wins have been convincing. Anyway, I'm sure that topic will come up in the chat, which is I think is starting now.
    Do you think the type of game Pietrangelo plays lends itself to a long-term contract? He seems very durable, not having missed many games during his time with the Blues. He doesn't shy away from contact, but he picks his spots, and he manages to avoid getting mauled. Do you see AP as a Nicklas Lidstrom type, who stayed healthy and never won a Norris before the age of 30 ... and then won seven before he retired at 41?
    I think the Blues can be a lot more confident in giving Pietrangelo a long-term deal than they were about giving one to Backes. Even a three-year deal would have been optimistic for Backes. (For fans of alternate history, try to project what the Blues would have looked like last season if they had signed Backes. Is Ryan O'Reilly on the team in that case?) I don't know that Pietrangelo will be playing at 41, but I can see him contributing very capably at 36 or 37. The reality is for the Blues to re-sign Pietrangelo, they'll have to give him a long-term deal to keep the AAV down. If the Blues come to him with a short-term deal, he'll find a team that will give him a long-term deal. He remains an elite defensive player in the league.
    Will there be peace in our lifetimes between 'Chief' and Fabbri?
    Fabbri's absence is kind of mysterious since he had some of his best games right before he took a seat. He's a victim now of the team's win streak and a hesitancy on Berube's part to juggle things when they're winning. Zach Sanford had some good games, but he hasn't had a shot attempt in the past two games, and that could point to a chance for Fabbri coming soon. When last asked on the topic, Berube said, "I just didn’t see enough I guess in the last game." Fabbri had one shot attempt, which was off target in that game. He was under 10 minutes in both games before that. The next chance Fabbri gets, he'll have to run with.
    Are the Blues looking to trade Fabbri?
    I'm sure they would be receptive to offers, but right now a) he wouldn't bring more than a draft pick and b) he's better than any of the alternatives the Blues have in San Antonio. So right now, he's useful to have around as an experienced backup. Once Kyrou is fit, that part of the equation gets a bit more complicated. Though Sanford and Fabbri are different players, their fates seem entwined. Blais seems to have put a fairly strong grip on his spot and Berube is a big fan of MacEachern's skating ability, so Sanford's spot is the one most directly linked to Fabbri playing. But also, he's a guy that's scored 18 goals in a season, and the Blues continue to have faith. But only to a point.
  • Your assessment on how Jake Allen has performed in his few games so far?
  • Certainly not as good as Binnington's. He's got a 3.73 GAA and an .855 save percentage. Neither of those numbers will take you very far. He's had some excellent saves in some of his games, but there always seems to be a goal that makes you shake your head in every Allen game. Still, the Blues are 2-1 when he plays, with the only loss coming to Montreal. Allen should be getting the nod tonight, and the Blues have a busy schedule this month, so he'll get more games which may help with his rhythm. But right now, he's making an easy choice for the coaches on who to put out every night.
  • Hi Tom,
    Seems the team has found ways to win in spite of the dangerous living. With Allen only having played 2 games can Bonner hold up at this pace? He played a back to back about a week ago, did well, will they perhaps look at that as an option again (assuming Jake is not sick next time)?
    It's three games for Allen, and while Binnington has made the case for playing every game, he can't do that and the Blues won't let him. I haven't asked, but I don't think Binnington has played back-to-backs too often in his career because he's seldom been the No. 1 goalie. Outside of an emergency, I don't think you'll see that.
    Good to see Bozak get off the schneid last night. I'll give you positive spin on your poll, since everybody probably answered Bortuzzo: who's the next bluenote to get rid of their 0? I kinda think it will be Barby.
    Barbashev's shots have been low this season. He's put only 12 on goal all season, and his shot attempts aren't that much higher. But that line has been producing chances. I think Parayko is a good candidate. Steen would have one had his shot not glanced off the bottom of Sanford's stick in the Detroit game. Bortuzzo obviously needs to get in a game to get a goal.
    So when YOU went on the Western Canada trip, what were the essential items you made sure to pack? Thermals?
    Dress really, really warm, though ultimately, you're not outside very much, and I believe the hotel in Edmonton is attached to the arena. (Buffalo has that advantage as well.) It's not what you bring as much as how you live it. I've never walked more than four blocks outdoors in Winnipeg.
    Nathan Walker would have to clear waivers if he got the call up and didn't secure a spot yea? Do you feel the non-waiver eligible ELC guys Kyrou/Kostin would get the call up first due to this? It seems like they are buying time for Kyrou to get in game shape, and Kostin would have gotten called up already if he was going to.
    Walker would have to clear waivers going back down only if he was on the roster for more than 10 games or 30 days. (I think those are the numbers; usually it takes one call up each season before I get that in my head for good.) That's likely a factor in why the team has waited to call anyone up from San Antonio. Right now, the feeling is also, anyone they call up isn't going to play, so why bring them up and pay them to sit around and watch when they can be playing games in San Antonio and working on things? And with Kyrou going to get a look when he's healthy, there's no reason to start the clock yet on Walker.
    Do you get over to the new practice rink often? I haven't seen how it is put together. How much of the Blues area crosses over with the public area? Are they able to enter, prepare, practice, and leave without passing by public locker rooms/viewing areas/public parking?
  • I'm there every time the Blues practice there. The players have their own gated parking lot, their own entrance, and they can enter and leave the ice, or move between the two big rinks, without having to pass by any of the public. But both rinks are open to the public for watching while they practice. The rink has a Twitter feed that announces practice times when the team is there.
  • When Vegas claimed Perron what was the reason he wasn't protected? Just 1 year left on contract? He seems to know how to score more now.
  • The Blues would have protected him but they had just signed Sobotka and got him back from the KHL, and they went with him instead. The year in Vegas may have been a good one for Perron. His game seemed to have started clicking again after that (though he did have 18 goals in the final season of that run with the Blues).
  • How do you feel the Blues power play is coming along?
  • When it's good, it's good, and when it's not, it looks terrible. I guess that's progress over last year, when it just looked terrible. I haven't seen numbers on the Blues' faceoff numbers this season, but they seem to be down, and when you lose that first faceoff, you're taking 20 seconds or so off the power play. In the past seven games, power play goals have looked like this: 3, 0, 2, 0, 2, 0, 0. So it really has been hit or miss. I think there's some potential there and I think it will ultimately be a plus for the team. The threat of shorthanded goals still seems to loom large over that group though. Almost another last night.
  • I never see Marc Savard on the bench during a game. Is he more of an eye in the sky?
  • Savard is in the press box with David Alexander, the goalie coach. More than three on the bench starts getting crowded, though the Blues did that when Larry Robinson was around last season right after the change.
  • Impressions of Justin Faulk so far? He has been okay, but we are not paying him to be okay. If Army was sending a message to Pietro that he could be replaced, this has blown up in Army’s face. Faulk’s offense has not come around, and he has been negative defender. If anything, this is driving up Pietro’s price as Blues do not have anyone to replace him. Parayko is good with flashes of great, but has not shown ability to be true #1. Will Faulk come around?
    Good, not great and I think he's leveled off a bit. Berube thinks he's still adjusting after playing his whole career with one team and having to pick up on some new things. His shots have been way down of late. He had six against Los Angeles, and he's had six total in the six games since. Defensively, the Blues want him to be more aggressive. Offensively, like the entire team, he needs to shoot more.
    Emily Kaplan of ESPN published an article recently - a player's poll of best & worst. Most dreaded road city to visit: Winnipeg!
    I would love to see Winnipeg in June or July sometime, just to know that things actually exist outdoors there.
    Tom, is Bortuzzo and Fabbri in Berube’s “doghouse” for some reason? I kinda expected to see them in the Minnesota game last Saturday since it was the second game in as many nights. Fresh legs and all but not a sniff. Are they not performing in practice? If they aren’t in tonight’s game then something is up.
  • I talked about Fabbri earlier; he's had his moments, but not enough. Bortuzzo has historically been the seventh defensemen, though he and Gunnarsson began sharing that mantel last season when Gunnarsson was healthy. Early on, the theory was that Gunnarsson would play against fast teams, Bortuzzo would play against heavy teams. What's happened now is that in wanting to get players on their proper sides, Gunnarsson and Pietrangelo have become a pairing that seems to work. It worked well last season. And again, if the team keeps winning, coaches are hesitant to make changes.
  • I’m just learning the game so I have a couple questions my boyfriend can’t seem to answer. In baseball you have your nine position players, plus 4-5 bench players and relief and starting pitchers. Everyone dresses, everyone is available to play. In hockey you have 2-3 guys who don’t get to play and are considered “healthy scratches”. Why do they carry more players than they are able to play? It’s not like if someone gets hurt during the game one of these guys can suite up. My boyfriend says the coach uses those positions as “teaching experiences” if a player is not performing. Seems to me if a player is not performing you cut him or send him to the minors. Can you explain why teams have “healthy scratches” or carry more players then are available to play?
    Minor injuries are far more common in the NHL than in other sports, and if you had only 20 players on the roster, you'd be calling guys up all the time because someone needed a game off. While this would be good for airlines, it would be terrible for teams, who would have an incentive to be throwing non-100 percent players out on the ice because they couldn't get someone from a farm team in San Diego to a game in Boston. 
     
    And yes, there is the "threat" of being able to give a player a game off if he's not doing well. Consider last season when Bouwmeester was struggling and he was a healthy scratch for three games. If there was a 20-man roster, the Blues would have had to, what, send him to the minors? Have to pass him through waivers and risk losing him? That wasn't going to happen. 
     
    Baseball will change its rules next season, by the way, with teams not being able to use every one on the roster in games in September like they do now when rosters can expand past 25. So in baseball next season, there will be healthy scratches.
     
    And, on the other side of things, Toronto is so screwed up on the salary cap that they may have to go with a 20-man roster soon when players come off long-term IR because it's the only way they can get under the cap. 
    What’s your take on Justin Falk to this point? Seems to me if you’re a minus -5 and only have 5 helpers you’re underachieving. Is it just adapting to a new team or did Carolina know something we didn’t?
    See below (and nothing personal that I answered that question instead of yours; it just happened to be in my line of sight). I don't think Carolina knew something that the Blues didn't. Sixteen games does not a season make.
    Quite the mess in Winnipeg as it relates to Big Buff. How do you see that playing out? Trade, arbitrator ruling, he returns to Winnipeg or retirement?
    It seems very complicated up there and I would think arbitration is going to provide the solution. Winnipeg would, I'm sure, love to have him playing. But the way it's shaking out is going to be awkward and I'm not sure anyone knows how this will play out.
    Thanks for doing this.

    Have you heard any particular reason for the constant shuffling of the D parings? I understand that we've had injuries to Gunny, and Faulk is new, but at some point, we have to settle on something, right? It's got to be rough on the new guy playing with a different partner every game.
    Berube has said he's just looking for combinations and that they move lines around all the time and this is just like that. The Blues seem to have gotten away from having players play on their off side, which has provided some semblance of order, but the next time Bortuzzo goes back in for Gunnarsson, that will throw off the left-right balance and they'll be back to rearranging things. I think it was the Minnesota game where the defensive pairings they started with lasted one period. I think eventually they'll settle on something, but the reality is also that as long as Bortuzzo is a righty and Gunnarsson is a lefty, it's going to change when the lineup changes.
  • How much flexibility does NBC sports have in terms of the games they show? Tonight they are showing redwings/rangers, who combined don't have as many points as the blues or the oilers. I get that St. Louis and Edmondton are small markets, but those are the two top teams in the west point wise. Seems like the better game to broadcast for everyone outside of NY and Detroit.
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