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.

    Fresh from practice, it's time for a chat. So let's get going.
    I'm assuming the Blues didn't give up a #2 for Scandella to be the 7th defenseman. Do you see him slotting into Bouwmeester's role, or displacing Bortuzzo / Gunnarson?
    I asked Berube just about 20 minutes ago who Scandella would be paired with, and he said they hadn't decided yet. But he went to say that he would be comfortable with Scandella moving into Bouwmeester's role on a shutdown pairing alongside Parayko. Berube was very high on the play on Gunnarsson lately, so it could well be a situation where Faulk goes back to playing with Dunn on the third pairing and Bortuzzo goes back to being a scratch. Berube said he does prefer going lefty-righty on his pairings, so that would likely leave Bortuzzo out if everyone stays healthy
    Although he played in some games, Del Zotto was clearly a depth/insurance acquisition last spring. Do you think the same will be true for Scandella or will he play more, especially considering what the Blues gave Montreal for him?
    I think the fact that the Blues got a left-handed defenseman, giving them three lefties, says that he's going to play regularly and won't be in a Del Zotto-ish role. Berube just told us after practice that he planned on playng Scandella tomorrow. Ironically, Del Zotto is probably available from Anaheim if the Blues wanted to go get him back.
    Tom - Kyrou seemed to be getting his usual scoring chances last night. Do you see his game getting more Berube'd as he climbs out of the doghouse?
    You've got it backward. He's not getting more Berube-d as he climbs out of the doghouse, he's climbing out of the doghouse because he's getting more Berube-d. Berube said a couple days ago that he's learning the game and is playing harder, which is what the coach wants to see. He's certainly shown very strong flashes offensively, and getting the turnover that led to the goal in the abbreviated Anaheim game was a good sign. But the Berube points will come on the forecheck and in the defensive zone. Berube still sees him playing the way Thomas did at times early last season, but progress is being made.
    Tom - surprised to hear Brodeur still lives in St. Louis while working for the Devils during a break in action last night. Did he make enough of an impression with the Blues to possibly come back should a more prominent role open up?
    I didn't get a chance to talk to Brodeur yesterday other than to say Hi, but it's always good to see him. He made a fine impression -- he watched the morning skate yesterday with Armstrong and MacInnis and the last I saw him last night, he and Armstrong were yukking it up as they walked down the hall to Armstrong's box. So he left on very good terms. He's a hard guy not to like. He's back on the hockey side temporarily after the personnel changes in New Jersey, but I think ultimately he's more happy on the business side, playing golf with people than traveling around the world sitting in cold arenas.
    Can Jaybo be expected to come back this season or is he out?
    He's almost certainly out for this season. Putting him on long term injured reserve means he's out at least 10 games or 24 days, so mathematically, he can come back. Armstrong said yesterday they were saying definitively he's out, but they are assuming the seven defensemen they have now are the seven they will finish the season with. But they can't get both him and Tarasenko back in the regular season without freeing up $3 million of salary, which won't be easy. Surgery to install an ICD is not something that's on the list of "how soon can someone play again?" questions, so when he might want to get back on the ice, if ever, is uncertain.
    I was at the game last night, and the penalty on Steen for "playing without a helmet " was ridiculous. I get the importance of player safety, but the blues were getting a delayed power play with sustained offensive pressure. If he leaves the ice then that negates the threat, kind of a silly rule in my opinion
    Funny you should mention that. I asked Berube about that today and he noted that the referees didn't notice Steen was playing without a helmet until the play had gone on for a while. He said it's a tough thing to do, to remember in the heat of the action like that when you're battling in front of the net that you have to leave the ice or put the helmet back on. But then he said that he thinks it's a good rule because it's dangerous to be out there without a helmet. So he came out, quite strongly in fact, in favor of the rule. It's the first time I've seen it called and Berube, who watches way more games than I do, said he hadn't seen it either.
    Does the Blues physical forecheck make a return as we get closer to the playoffs or is that a gear not likely to be reached this season?
    Boy do they hope the physical forecheck is there because that's how the Blues win games. If they're not doing that, there won't be a long playoff run this year. That's their style. Berube has acknowledged that it's a hard style to play, that it's very taxing and it takes a toll. But that's how this team is built.
    i trust in army, but trading a 2nd for a guy who went for a 4th a month ago seems like overpaying to me. i guess the blues front office really doesn't want to roll mikola out there in the playoffs.
    Armstrong admitted yesterday that making a trade at this point, a week before the deadline, almost assures you of overpaying. Buffalo traded him because it had too many defensemen, so they were going to have to move someone, so they didn't have the leverage. I think if this were earlier in the season, the Blues would have been content to have Mikkola around as the extra defenseman, but looking at the playoffs (and the trade deadline) fast approaching, they looked and thought, if Gunnarsson gets hurt again, now Mikkola is in, and while that's OK, now Derrick Pouliot or Jake Walman is the next man up, and that scared them. Meanwhile, with defensemen disappearing off the trade board, they saw the need for a move quickly.
    How much of this season is riding on Justin Faulk's shoulders? The Blues gave up a lot for him and signed him to a nice extension. The Blues had to have higher expectations from him than what they have received on the ice, right? Scandella is a fine 3rd line dman, who won't embarrass himself out there, but Bou is far more than that. Is Faulk just a bad match for this team? Does Berube fail to utilize him because he doesn't trust Faulk or because of Faulk's performance? I'm trying to figure out if its reasonable for Faulk to step up or if this isn't going to work out this year and he will fail to live up to lofty expectations.
    The Blues haven't been able to figure out yet where Faulk fits. They can play him on the top pairing with Pietrangelo, but that forces one of them to play on their off side, which they want to avoid. They can play him on the shutdown pairing, but he doesn't do that as well as Bouwmeester or Parayko did. So then he ends up on the third pairing with Dunn, getting less minutes. Meanwhile, he's lost his spot on the second power play unit because Parayko has suddenly figured out how to shoot on it. Last night, he played 19:56, which was behind only Pietrangelo and Parayko, so they must trust him. So far, the Blues have been willing to accept this season as transitional pain for Faulk, after spending his whole career in one system and having to adapt to another. More will be expected next season, though it would certainly help if the team was able to settle on a role for him. The events of this offseason might provide some clarity there.
    If Paryko continues to confidently shoot the puck, the Blues may have a star on the Blue Line
  • I think the Blues already feel they have a star on the blueline. Adding his shot consistently moves him up the list.
  • Faulk was -11 heading into last night All other d-man on our team are a plus. He has not jelled with anybody. Would they consider trading him at this point and basically go with what they had last year MInus Boumeester for Scandella And then with Faulks money and Boumeester's coming off That is more than enough to pay Petro
    Faulk has a no-trade clause for this year and the next five after that. The Blues have faith in him going forward. 
    Also, giving up on a guy that quickly isn't a move that's going to get you much value coming back. Also, no one at the trade deadline is looking for someone with that kind of cap hit. 
    Mr. Timmermann,

    I like the trade for Scandella. Do you have any idea why such a useful player has been so well travelled lately (i.e. personality fit or some other issue)? Does he go on the third pair for the Blues, or do you think he can play well enough to be a 3-4?
    Buffalo had too many defensemen and needed to get rid of someone. As a veteran in the walk year of his contract, Scandella was a likely candidate. And then in Montreal, when they started vanishing out of the playoff picture, he figured to be expendable again. Had a chance to talk with him this morning after practice and he seems like he'll be a good guy in the room. Played with O'Reilly in Buffalo, played with Pietrangelo, Allen and Schenn at the 2010 world juniors. Berube seemed confident he could play wherever they needed him to.
    What do you think about Armstrong's comments on the potential return of Tarasenko? Was he being serious or trying to seem less desperate to other GMs? Seems horribly foolish to bring tarasenko back into the fire the last week of the season and heading into the playoffs. You better believe other teams would be gunning for that shoulder.. anything less than a 100% clean health slate would be a mistake to the team and tarasenko's future
    I guess we'll find out for sure on Monday, but as soon as Armstrong asks any team about a high-priced forward, he'll be tipping his hand as to Tarasenko's actual status. My colleague Ben Frederickson has made the case for waiting until the playoffs for bringing Tarasenko back. One possible reading of yesterday's comments is that Tarasenko could be back earlier than the last week of the season, giving him more time to get back into game shape. The Blues may rush Tarasenko back before his shot is back to where it could be, but I don't think they'll rush him back at a point where there's an injury risk. He's too valuable of an investment for them. 
    Tarasenko skated with the team again today in an optional practice. It's the third time he's skated with the team overall and the first time he's done it consecutive days. He was out on the ice well after everyone else had come back in. He declined interview requests.
    last year berube was loath to mess with lines. now he's juggling like it's the heyday of ken hitchcock. with the playoffs a month away, do you see him settling down? i really like the bottom line with barby, sundqvist, and blais/steen. i hope other lines figure it out enough to keep those guys together.
    I think right now the line blender-izing is the result of nothing seeming to work and the steady stream of losses. I think once the team settles down and achieves some sort of consistency, the lines will settle too. Ultimately, I think that fourth line of Steen, Sundqvist and Barbashev will go back together, as will O'Reilly and Perron on their line and Schenn and Schwartz on there's. Berube's fast running out of new ways to arrange people, short of de la Rose and MacEachern going on the top line. So even if the losses keep coming, the juggling will hit a wall at some point. If he's still juggling lines in two weeks, the Blues will be having major problems.
    I have a question about the salary cap and player injuries. If the player misses the remainder of the season, then their salary doesn't count towards the cap. But the player still gets paid right? So even if tarasenko doesn't return, its not like the team has extra money. Is Stillman willing to go above and beyond the cap?
    The player is getting his money. The salary doesn't count toward the cap only if they put him on long term injured reserve. Then you get cap relief. Also, keep in mind that salaries are paid over the course of the season, so these players by now have already gotten a large chunk of their contract. If the Blues acquire someone who is making $6 million this season, they're only responsible for the remainder of the contract, maybe 1/6th of it at the trade deadline. So the numbers seem big, but they aren't. In the case of Scandella, the Blues have half of his $4 million going against the cap, but they're only paying about 1/6th of that $2 million, about $320,000. So it's not a tremendous outlay of cash. Well, by my standards it is, but not by a team's standards.
    Is Kreider still on the Blues radar?
  • Reports say that Colorado and Boston are the main pursuers of Kreider, and Colorado is probably prepared to pay a lot more for him than the Blues are because they really need a forward about now. And judging from Armstrong's comments yesterday that the news on Tarasenko is encouraging, their pursuit has likely tempered. 
    Now, if Tarasenko says on Sunday, my shoulder really hurts, then everything changes. But right now, Kreider showing up here seems unlikely. 
    If and when Tarasenko comes back, Our lines round out quite nicely. !st !0 17 91. 2nd 90 57 12. 3rd 18 20 21 4th 49 9 70. With kyrou and others as depth in case somebody's not playing well.
    That's one other thing about trading for a top six forward if you think you've got Tarasenko coming back, it's getting crowded up there. Though there was a time not that long ago when having Sanford in that group would have seemed a stretch. As I think I wrote at some point, "trading for a top six forward" was a synonym for "replace Zach Sanford." Now, he's making a case for staying up there. When fully healthy, it's a pretty good set. But this is the NHL, and relying on everyone being healthy can be overly optimistic.
    beyond Kyrou, then Kostin, who would be the next 2 or 3 forward prospects with NHL potential--seems like a weak area in the system.
    The other candidates, Toropchenko, Alexandrov and Laferriere are still a ways away. Kostin is really the one guy down there who is NHL ready right now.
    I'm becoming less and less of a fan of Schwartz. It's one thing to be snake bit but it almost looks more like a lack of concentration. Maybe I'm being to hard on the guy but I just think there are other players out there that would be a better option for next year. Palmieri would be an interesting pick up.
    I think you're being hard on the guy, but he's a guy that the Blues are going to have to make a decision on soon because his contract is up after next season, and if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo, one of the cap casualties of that could be Schwartz. He has shown himself to be a streaky player, which may not be exactly what the Blues want to see, but when he's on, oh is he good. I don't know that the Blues win the Stanley Cup last season without his performance in the postseason. He hasn't lacked for chances lately and there was clear look of relief for him last night when he scored. Even when he's not scoring, he works hard fighting for pucks. And he's got 19 goals this season, which isn't too bad. He may come up a little short of his career high (28) this season, but he'll have a good total when he's done.
    Follow up: how would Schenn or Schwarz handle a temporary “demotion” for Blais ? They can be very streaky.
    I don't know that Blais' play right now is making the case for elevating him above Schenn or Schwartz, though that was a nice pass by Blais last night on Barbashev's second goal. I'm sure neither of them would like it. There were a few times last season when the team was struggling and Schwartz was on a third line with Sundqvist and Steen. That was when they were using Maroon-Bozak-Thomas on a line. So it's not out of the question.
    Blais was playing very well before the wrist, and seems to be getting back offensively ( relatively) lately. I know Sanford has been hot, but so was Blais with O’Reilly and Perron before he got hurt. . Is an impending move to a top line coming or did his injury relegate him to the 4th line in Mac Mac’s spot?
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