Hi everyone. Sorry I'm late. Practice and locker room access took a little longer than normal today. In any case, there's not much to talk about but we'll see what comes ujp.
I think with Perron's status still uncertain, the Blues would look at a second or third line forward, but it would have to be someone who comes reasonably cheap, which will limit your options. The Blues have already traded away two draft picks next year, including their first, so they're low on options there, and I don't think they would want to part with their most attractive prospects, which is to say, anyone asking for Kyrou or Kostin is going to be turned down. I can't imagine there's any interest for Gunnarsson, who has been hurt most of the season, and Bouwmeester's play has been so good lately that I can't see trading him.
I was going to put out a poll this week had I not been late. What do the Blues need to do down the stretch? Fire the GM? Change the captain? Deal Tarasenko? Overhaul the defense? Bring up all the prospects from San Antonio and build for next season? All of those were familiar topics around here earlier in the season. The numbers say the Blues are for real. Their expected goals total and their expected goals difference have both been consistently high since mid-December. This team has been playing well for a long time, longer than the results showed. At some point this win streak is going to end, and they may even lose a couple in a row, but the numbers now point to the early season play being the anomaly and the current Blues being more representative of the team going forward.
There is no good estimate on Perron. He wasn't on the ice again today and isn't going with the team to Dallas. Berube said yesterday that he's making progress, but we've seen him on the ice once in the past month. At this point, it seems unlikely he would play before the trade deadline on Monday. Once he starts skating with the team, we'll have a better idea, but until that happens, it's a mystery to everyone, and I think that includes the Blues.
I don't see a big impact trade coming, since it would mean breaking up the core of a team that is playing very well or involve trading prospects. It's possible the Blues could include Sammy Blais in a deal, since MacEachern's play seems to be crowding him out, or Schmaltz, since there are several other young D in the pipeline, but I don't know how much that gets you. The most promising youngsters, Kyrou or Kostin, will be off limits. Any player for whom there is a bidding war, the Blues will likely be the losers since other teams have more assets to trade. And a trade for a top-line goalie would be problematic. While it would be great to have someone like that in reserve, do you trade for Howard and have him backup Binnington? Or trade for Howard and then sit Binnington? Both of those seem to be tough calls.
The Blues have said nothing to indicate he won't be back at all. If it's a concussion, which is the operating assumption from how things have played out, it's a matter of time. Perron was skating on his own at a few points -- and might still be for all we know -- and it seemed the Blues thought he would be back right after the All-Star break, so apparently progress was being made at some point. But right now, it's very much wait and see.
I do not, though the rest of the West is certainly giving them chances. I think their defense, which has allowed the most goals in the league, won't be enough. But if everyone else in the West keeps losing, they could get in by default. It looks like 85 points could get you in the West this year.
I'm all in favor of brake tapping. The Blues defense is playing much better and the numbers say that the defense plays better in front of Binnington than in front of Allen. So he has benefited from that. If Binnington had been playing earlier in the year when the team was struggling mightily, would he have done this? Probably not, though one thing to ask about Binnington is How many soft goals has he allowed? One, maybe two? Last night the two goals were one knocked in by his own team and another that bounced off a Toronto skate. It seems like a lot of the goals he's allowed have been on redirections on which a goalie is often helpless. If there was one way he could have made a difference earlier, it would have been in not allowing the soft goals we saw Allen sometimes allow and whether that would have affected how the Blues would have played in those games. That wouldn't have added up to a record like he has now, but it could have led to one or two more wins earlier. Binnington's reliability in goal has helped the team gain its confidence, but how he would have done if called up earlier is an alternate universe that can't quite be sorted out.
See above (or below, I'm not sure which direction is the other Binnington answer is right now), but it would be wrong to expect Binnington's play to go on like this forever, largely because no goalie's play has gone on like this forever. Binnington has been very consistent, but he's yet to go through a hard time, which seems inevitable in any goalie's career. How he responds to that will be the measure.
As I noted earlier, I think Blais could be trade-able because of MacEachern's play. When you look at Kyrou and Kostin getting looks next season, there may not be room for Blais, so he could be an asset to be dealt. I think Sanford is less likely to be dealt, because he's someone the team is high on going forward. I think Schmaltz could also be traded; the Blues seem to like having around him, but they sure didn't use him much when he was here. If the team is sold on Reinke and Walman and Mikkola going foward, Schmaltz could be a trade chip.
I suppose he could retire, but the way he's been playing, I think he probably feels he has some seasons still ahead of him. With the young D the Blues have coming up, I don't see space for him in St. Louis, and if he took a one-year contract, it would also come with a big pay cut. He's more likely to get a bigger salary than the Blues would offer, both in terms of years and dollars, somewhere else. Re-sign Bouwmeester and with five other D coming back, it makes it tough to play Reinke or Walman or Mikkola.
The Blues have played better on the road this season than at home, so I don't think so. The one big factor, at least for me, in having home-ice in the postseason, is that with the 2-2-1-1-1 format, being at home means one less trip. As someone who has been on an extended postseason grind, though admittedly flying commercial rather than a charter, those plane flights start taking a toll after a while. The Blues just beat Tampa Bay and Nashville on the road, in overtime. This team seems to know what to do on the road.
That will be an interesting call for the Blues and I have no idea what they might do. How many years do they want to give him, because the more years you give him affects what you do with Allen or Husso. Right now, if Binnington's play continues at a respectable level -- I don't think he'll finish the season with just one loss -- I could see him and Allen being a 1A and 1B next season. If they give Binnington a four-year contract, then Husso is trade-able. But you can't blame the Blues for saying to Binnington, would you mind proving it a little longer? Whenever I see those lists from the NHL of goalies with great records at the start of their careers that Binnington is chasing, I think how many of them did not go on to great careers. (Blues fans may recall Brent Johnson.) As a reminder, Binnington needs to play more than 30 minutes in 28 games this season or he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He's at 15 right now.
Perron could be the classic "trade deadline acquisition you didn't have to make a trade to get." The Blues no doubt have better information than I do on Perron's status and his potential to return, but having a spare winger wouldn't hurt because if Perron comes back, you never know when Tarasenko might crash into the boards and hurt his leg. If Perron comes back, he might well benefit from the time off, and while there may well be a time for him to get re-acclimated and get back up to speed, his play before the injury certainly would indicate who would do well at the end. The past two season, Perron has sort of faded at the end, so a month off could be a benefit, though a concussion, assuming that's what he has, is a lousy way to get that rest.
Perron has to go into one of the top two lines when he's back up to speed and the obvious choice to be moved down is Steen. I've though over these past few weeks that when that time finally comes, you move Thomas back up and have him center the second line with Schwartz and Perron on the wings. Bozak then moves down to center the third line. Though I increasingly get the impression that the way the fourth line is playing, they want to keep that group together. They looked very impressive last night. Sanford could end up being the odd-man out in that forward group. If Thomas stays on the fourth line, then you would be looking at Schwartz-Bozak-Perron on the second line and Steen, Sundqvist and Maroon plugging in on the third line. It seems the lines work out better if Thomas moves up, but you can't deny he's thriving right now on the fourth line.
Well, I am hungry, but I haven't stopped to fix anything yet.
This is something the NHL is going to have to standardize, especially with the NHL's involvement in sports betting. I've never fully understood the penchant for secrecy, which goes from goalie choices to injury situations.
He played 21 minutes, so the Blues certainly weren't holding him back. It would be silly to think an injury in a previous game didn't have some affect the next time out. He still had some dangerous chances and did typical Tarasenko things.
I think wins over Tampa Bay and Nashville, on the road, show the Blues are ready for prime time. If an 11-game win streak doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.
If there was one thing that seems to lead to an opposing goal more than anything else, it would seem to be an inability to clear the puck from your own end. That seems to come back and bite you more than anything else (assuming you're not, as the Blues were early in the season, a team prone to giving up odd-man rushes). Toronto's first goal last night resulted from that kind of situation. He had the puck in the middle of the zone and seemed to be trying to skate the puck out rather than just shooting it out and things went south from there. Skating the puck out is generally preferable to shooting the puck out since you keep possession, and it's something the Blues have been very good at during their streak. Pietrangelo plays more minutes than anyone else and is more likely to play against the opponent's top line. That means his mistakes are more likely to be harshly punished because of the caliber of player on the ice. Still, we're talking a team that just posted three straight shutouts. They're making a lot less mistakes with the puck than they used to.
I haven't checked his health situation with other teams, but it's clearly not his first. If he had ones with other teams, they didn't keep him for too long because his games totals were in the 70s.