Hey there. Jim's in Vancouver at the moment, which isn't too bad a deal, so you're stuck with me on the chat. The Blues aren't on the ice there until I think 2 p.m. St. Louis time, so if there's any news happening out of there, we won't know for a while. Anyway, we're a little early, but we might as well get going. Consider this bonus time. And if you ask now, there's a better chance I'll answer your question
So far, this is shaping up as the easiest chat I've ever done.
To fill time, I'll note that Vince Dunn got fined $1,942 for his crosscheck yesterday, while the guy who crosschecked him is getting a hearing with the player safety committee, which will no doubt cost him more money
If it was someone who was available right now, I would think that person would have been hired, unless that person recently lost a job and wanted some time off or that person was weighing to see what other jobs might come open and if there was a better one out there. Though Armstrong said they would consider everyone for the job, I would think with a team like this, you would go for someone with NHL experience. Beyond that, I don't really know.
Considering this doesn't happen very often, where a player and team mutually agree to end a contract the size of Berglulnd's, I'd say it's out of character for most anyone in the NHL. I don't know that he wants to go back to Sweden, but it sure seems like he doesn't want to be in Buffalo. And it's not like he grew up in Spain and moved to Buffalo. A Swedish winter should get you ready for Buffalo. And he's playing for a team that's doing pretty well. Maybe he misses St. Louis. Maybe he wishes Buffalo had more Swedes on the roster. The whole thing seems a bit odd. And yes, he's giving up $12 million, but he's earned $21 million in his NHL career, so that should soften the blow.
Well, if you could send Fabbri and Schwartz on a pre-emptive trip to Lourdes to keep them healthy, that would be a plus. If Jake Allen hits his annual December/January swoon, which usually happens right about now, then the team definitely will have to look for a new goalie. Three seasons of that would be too much. But acquiring goalies can be guesswork. Teams aren't giving up established winners, so you're looking at guys who are free agents coming off hot years and hoping they keep it going, or backups who are blocked. I think the right coaching hire, even if it's not Quenneville, would make the team improve and, as the team's play since Yeo was fired has shown, the problem seems not to be with the coach. They'll need an effective stay-at-home defenseman and a forward who can play well down low, unless, of course, Maroon finds his game and shows he's that guy. So much will depend on how this team closes out the season.
Dunn hasn't scored a goal since Oct. 22 and has 10 assists, so his offensive game could use some help. It's clear they still don't trust him defensively. There's been ample chances to use him on the top pairing and more often than not they've used someone else, though there's also the case to be made that for the Blues, having two offensive-minded defenseman on one pairing is asking for trouble, considering the number of odd-man rushes this team gives up. From a quick glance at the numbers, I'd say he's last -- or low -- among Blues defensemen in hits. While that stat can be very erratic and vary from building to building, he hasn't been credited with one in seven games.
At this point, I wouldn't be too confident of the Blues winning those four games but yes, if they could, they'd be back in it. A hot streak would help, but with the Blues erratic play, a hot streak seems as likely as finding a yeti in your backyard. When the Blues were in Las Vegas right before Yeo was fired, he told me how the "optics" made the team look worse, that because they played fewer games, they were further behind in points than they might have been had they played three more games. And maybe that's the case. But until the Blues start winning multiple games in a row, making up those points will be tough. The reality is, the Blues have to win about two out of three games the rest of the season to get to the points level they'll need to make the playoffs. Two years ago, at the All-Star break, I think, Hitchcock told a few of us that the team needed to win two out of three road games the rest of the way to make the playoffs. We laughed (quietly, and after he left the room) because at that point, the team was terrible on the road, winning one out of three. They needed a total turnaround. Guess what? They did it. So anything, I suppose is possible.
The Blues have, in recent years, seemed to have found effective fourth lines. Who knew Oskar Sundqvist could score like this? Barbashev has long been thought to have an offensive upside and he's been showing it. Nolan doesn't play much, but even with limited shifts, he's doing more than Soshnikov or any of the other guys who have been used down there has shown.
That is my understanding, though I have not been told that directly. Let that be a reminder to all of us to make sure to meet deadlines.
By rest of this year, do you mean 2018? If so, yes. Berube said the other day that, with not many back-to-backs on the horizon, they would be riding Allen just about every game. I don't see Binnington starting before the back-to-backs early January, unless Allen has some horrendous outings. So far, Allen has played well enough to earn that, but this is the critical time for him. Late December, early January is his danger zone. I asked him about this the other day. He said he was feeling good.
After the game, a replay emerged that showed the puck was way over the line. It was from a low angle on the side. The league needs to get better on getting views like that out in a timely manner. It was definitely a goal.
He has not publicly spoken on the subject in any direction. Our columnist Benjamin Hochman asked, and he declined. And who can blame him for being unhappy? The team's play is not helping the bottom line at all.
I incur the wrath of the copy desk and my bosses and probably spend more time in the office.However, I have a no-trade clause.
I would think an off night seems inevitable, but even a good night might not help in Calgary. The Flames are pretty hot right now. That game on Sunday was going to be a hard one for the Blues to win even if they played well; playing as poorly as they did turned it into a wipeout.
There is something called an "action bias," which makes people do things when standing pat is actually the better strategy. It's why teams make deals at the trade deadline, so it seems like they're doing something even if, in the long term, not doing anything is the better call. Something certainly seems wrong with how the Blues are constituted, because there's plenty of talent there that isn't performing well together. Sometimes you have seasons where everyone just plays poorly at the same time and that could be the problem: 15 off years. But if you want to salvage this season, a move could alter that chemistry and give the team a chance. And with the team having had back-to-back seasons like this, the problem may be that the talent, or how the team chemistry, isn't what it's cracked up to be. In that case, a change could help. For a while, I advocated standing pat, but I'm increasingly thinking something has to be done for the sake of doing something.
Yes, it seems Bouwmeester has been playing better of late, and the fan base doesn't have that cringe factor every time the puck gets near him. He know doubt is feeling better physically better than he did at the start of the season, and one of the Blues' mistakes early may have been playing a not 100 percent Bouwmeester at the start.
Experience tells me that players who are coming off injuries with offseason surgeries often need about half the season to get back to where they were before. Witness Bouwmeester. That could well be the same with Tarasenko, though he has maintained all along he feels fine. But any doubts in his mind about his shoulder could explain why he suddenly has shown a desire to become a playmaker. The problem for the Blues is, if Tarasenko isn't scoring 30-plus goals, that's going to put a definite drag on the offense.
I'm glad to see more yeti discussion in this chat. Tarasenko, it should be noted, used to play in Siberia when he was in the KHL.
As my colleague Derrick Goold has pointed out, back when he and I covered the team in the Quenneville era, too many men penalties were thought to be a sign of a team not paying attention to the coach and it usually marked the end of the coach's time with a team. But the barrage of penalties under Berube speak to something different. Berube took the blame for last night's, but sometimes it's been guys coming off and then changing their minds, other times guys being slow in getting to the bench, other times they're bad luck with the puck being played directly to a guy leaving the ice. The Blues had one the other day where the guy heading to the bench could see that he couldn't touch the puck or it would be a penalty and he did it anyway. So I think in the Blues' case, it's definitely the players.
They have not. They've got time and I'm sure will make it a big drawn out process. As an aside, I'll mention that when MLS was starting, the Columbus franchise had a name the team contest, and one of the candidates was the Crew. Though if you looked at the team's phone number prior to the nickname contest, it spelled out Crew. So either they were hedging their bets or they were confident of who would win.