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. Wednesday.




    Folks: Tom is covering practice and will be here ASAP. Maybe not precisely at 1 p.m., but soon after. Thanks for your patience.
    Greetings. Sorry for the slight delay. Just raced back from practice to get to Chat Headquarters. Jim is en route to Phoenix for tomorrow's game, so you've got me again. And with that, let's get going.
    What's the general vibe from the players regarding the coaching situation? Do they support Berube getting the job on a permanent basis?
    I think the players are pretty focused on the here and now, and right now, Craig Berube is the coach and things are going well. With the way the team has responded to him, I'd say they're pretty pleased with the situation and I would think they would support him getting the job, though with that said, if you're comparing him to Unknown Coach X, you'll stick with the guy you've got and are winning with. Berube coached some of these guys in the AHL, and many of the guys as an assistant and now as the head coach. There's a comfort level with that.
    Happy Hump Day Tom.

    It seems obvious with the state of play Chief will be named the permanent coach of the Blues. Have you heard if Management will name him in the near future versus waiting until the end of the year?
    The only thing Armstrong has said is that Berube will finish out the season. Certainly if the team keeps going the way they're going, it's hard to see them not keeping them. I don't think Armstrong will pull a Cardinals and quickly pull the interim tag. But I could be wrong.
    Any word on when Perron will be back in the lineup?
    Perron will not be on the plane when the team leaves for Arizona today. Berube left out hope that he will join the team on the road trip, but it wasn't the most positive sounding statement. So I would think that you're probably looking at at least three more games without him. Definitely one more game.
    When do you think Fabbri will get into the lineup again? Will it take an injury of some sort?
    I think it will take a loss. With the team in a seven-game win streak, Berube has been reluctant to tempt fate by making a lineup move. So as long as they're winning, he'll trot out the same 12 forwards. Once they lose a game, he'll find a way to slip Fabbri back in, probably on the fourth line for starters.
    Watching that game last night made me realize just how far this team has come in just 30 days. We were the New Jersey Devils just over a month ago. What happened, can you pinpoint it? Why did it take this long? What happens now? Are be buyers or sellers? I kinda thought last night would be a good time to get Fabbri out there. If you’re not going to play him can’t he be sent down to San Antonio so he can at least play?
    I alluded to this in my story for Tuesday's paper, but the analytics for the Blues jumped up very sharply in mid-December. It's almost like they got an electric shock the jump was so sudden. That came about three weeks into the Berube Era. The on-ice events that correspond to the jump were the illegal-stick overtime win over Colorado and the practice session fight between Bortuzzo and Sanford. It's also very possible that it just took a while for Berube's message to sink in. It's also possible that you or I could have been coaching the team and it would have eventually found that level, that the bad start was a combination of new faces not jelling, some bad luck and the standard ups and downs of the season. What ever it is, the team has an increased level of confidence and is nowhere near the fragile mess they were earlier. Let's face it: In November, the Florida, Tampa Bay and two Nashville games are ones they very likely would have lost.
    If Berube doesn't get offered the full time gig after the season, does he return to assistant coach? Or would a new coach get to pick his assistants? Or for that matter, would Chief be willing to go back to assistant?
  • Berbue has no doubt helped his chances to get another head coaching job in the league if the Blues chose not to keep him on, and there are going to be plenty of openings going forward. A new coach would get to pick his own staff and I'm sure the Blues wouldn't mind Berube staying on, but I don't know that he would want to if they decided he wasn't who they wanted to be the head coach.
  • Oh, and I forgot to add to an earlier question that the Blues would have the option of sending Fabbri down to San Antonio for a conditioning assignment. He would have to agree to it.
    Why was Chris Butler brought up here to ride the bench? Is Gunnarsson and Perron close to coming back?
  • Butler was brought up as protection if one of the D got hurt, and they brought him up because the other six D are doing so well, they didn't want one of the youngsters to be sitting around watching rather than playing. (Also, Butler has looked pretty good when he's been called up this season.) Gunnarsson has been on ice at practice the past few days. He'll go on the trip but won't play on Thursday. After that, we'll see.
    What's the long-term outlook for Sundqvist (if there even is one)? Is he a keeper?
    Sundqvist is definitely a keeper. The team likes everything about his game, offensively and defensively. I don't think he's going to be a top six forward, but he could be a third-line guy who can be moved up or down the lineup if needed. Though, for some reason, opposing players seem to go out of their way to hit him.
    I don’t see many Blues games in person since I live in Florida, but I did attend the Tampa Bay game last Thursday. I was very impressed with the play of Robert Thomas....the guy was flying. If we have more like him in the minors start building the trophy case to fit a 4’ tall cup and other hardware. Your take?
    Thomas has developed very well this season and has the makings of a very good player. I think that once the Blues lose a game and Berube is more willing to make changes, he'll go from playing the wing on the fourth line to centering the second line. He certainly adds a dimension to that fourth line, and Berube only put him there when he came back so they could limit his minutes after his shoulder injury. There isn't need to do that any more, but NHL coaches hate to tinker with success.
  • With the success the team has had since the start of the 2019 portion of the schedule I think the Blues should stand pat at the trade deadline. You’re going to need depth across the roster come playoff time Maroon has improved his game. If you trade Fabbri you won’t get a big return. Keep him and I believe he’s a rfa at seasons end. Then re-sign him. I think next year he’ll be back to his normal self. JBo and Gunnarsson? You’ll need veteran D for the playoffs. Your thoughts?
    I used to think that the Blues would be limited sellers at the deadline, dealing pending UFAs like Bouwmeester and Maroon. Now, I don't see that happening. As long as the team keeps winning, they'll keep those guys. The team has somewhat amazingly morphed from a team that would be fighting to make the playoffs to a team that looks like it could actually do something in the playoffs. At the same time, I don't see them buying. They certainly don't need any more defensemen, and they seem to have plenty of depth forwards. If by some chance a goalscorer was available at a reasonable price, they would be interested, but a situation like that seems unlikely.
     
    I don't think there's any kind of market for Fabbri at the moment.
    Just an observation, but is there any reason why Tarasenko stands off to the side away from the other four players in the starting lineup during the national anthem? I’m not saying he’s a bad teammate, cancer on the team, or trade him because of it. Asking out of curiosity. Would you know why?
    He does? My angle from the press box is right along that blue line, so I haven't noticed it.
    I hope that Binnington keeps playing solid goal tending; Allen looked like a fish out of water way to many times against Nashville. Not all the goals where his fault, but he seemed to be lost on a few plays
  • The net right now belongs to Binnington until something changes, and it's probably going to take a lot to change it, meaning more than just one bad game. Allen had to be thinking after Sunday's game, Oh great, I come back and face 45 shots. The Blues defense didn't make it easy for Allen in that game. Binnington does have a calm, steady style in goal, but the Blues defense has also made it easier for him.
    Auston Matthews signs for an aav of 11.634 million a year for the next five years (like the way he has his jersey number in the dollar amount). Ninety three percent of the money is paid in bonus money. Does that affect the yearly cap hit? Or is that cap hit the same? Does the bonus money guarantee he gets paid in the event of a work stoppage (heaven forbid)?
    Matthews' cap hit is $11.634 million per year, same as his AAV, but the signing bonuses mean he'll get that money if there's a work stoppage. At least that's my understanding of it.
    I guess as long as we don’t lose our next 8 games before the trade deadline it appears we will be buyers this year. If we are indeed buyers who else it out there we could grab that isn’t a RENTAL? No rentals please!! I was rather impressed with Kyle Palmieri from the Devils last night. Would Palmieri be a good fit and if so what would it take to get him do you think? BTW, I really like this MacEachern kid. I hope Army doesn’t screw around and start shuttling him back and forth to San Antonio. What’s up with Fabbri?
    I don't see the Blues getting a non-rental. The price would be too high. They don't have the draft picks to trade and are reluctant to deal prospects (at least the prospects that other teams would want). 
     
    I think MacEachern is going to stay around, though if they got in a roster bind in the next two weeks before the limits come off, he would be the likely guy to go down because he doesn't have to go through waivers. Amusingly, after the Nashville game on Saturday, he got called into the GM's office to sign his new contract, but he thought he was going to be told he was being sent back to San Antonio because Perron was coming off IR. 
     
    I've answered the Fabbri question earlier in the chat, but basically, he came back a little tentative from the shoulder injury, the coaches sat him, and other players did better, making it tougher for him to get back in. 
    Double TT, check it out when Tarasenko is in the starting lineup. He stands next to the bench during the anthem and the other four starters are more toward the middle of the ice. I know, one more thing for you to do while doing your job. Lol
    I will. I'll note that a lot of players have a lot of a quirks.
    What are the analytics that jumped up prior to getting the results? I am interested in learning more about hockey analytics.
  • The most significant one is what's called expected goals, or xG. It's based on who's taking shots and from where. After their slow start, the Blues are now 11th in expected goals for and second in expected goals against. (You can find this on corsicahockey.com, among other places.) So they're creating good chances while denying the other teams from having good chances. They're fifth in expected goal difference..For a while there, the numbers jumped and they were still playing .500 hockey. Now, it's to the point where they are playing up to their numbers and getting results. If you recall, in that earlier stretch, there were times when Berube and players were saying they were playing well enough to win but weren't and they just needed to stick with it and they would get results. Turns out they were right.
  • When Perron gets back in the lineup does he eventually go back on the first line with O'Reilly? Would Schenn drop down to center the second line or play wing? Thanks for the chat!
    This has been a much-discussed topic the past few days. We discussed it at length in the press box last night and at practice today. I would think that the current O'Reilly line would stay the same. Perron would go on the second line, along with Schwartz, and Thomas would be moved up to center that line. Bozak would center a third line with Sundqvist and Maroon or Steen on the wings. Then on the fourth line you would have MacEachern, Barbashev and either Maroon or Steen. Sanford would be the guy to come out. But I would think that Sanford and Fabbri would rotate through that third or fourth line from time to time.
    Seems like Army’s best move during the season was releasing Chad Johnson to make room for Jordan Binnington. At the time, the move appeared to be a short term solution. I recall Chad Johnson stating how great it was to join a well positioned team like Anaheim. Quite a significant change in standings since then.
    Who knew? Certainly backing up John Gibson would seem not to be a bad gig. It's interesting to remember that when Binnington was first called up, the Blues had no interest in playing him. Allen went every night until they had to use Binnington because they had a back to back. It's also interesting to remember that when Binnington came in in relief of Allen on a couple occasions, he didn't do anything that stood out and said, Boy, they should start this guy. But giving him a start seemed to push a magic button with Binnington. He's played great. 
     
    I also remember that when Johnson had a shutout early in the season, some members of the media (none of them me) wanted to know if Johnson was going to play more. 
     
    I will say that when it comes to being quotable, Chad Johnson was far better than Jordan Binnington. 
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