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.




  • What is the biggest change implemented by Craig Berube to bring this team such success?
    He's gotten the team on the same page. They are working more as a five-man unit than they did before. It's possible this might have just happened over time -- we'll never know for sure -- but the team is doing the right things now. He's held players accountable, has scratched players, including Perron, when he felt necessary. (Though Yeo scratched Maroon early on.) It took a while; some of those early games under Berube were penalty-filled messes. But they've come around. He also was blessed with a red-hot goalie in Binnington.
    David Perron once missed 97 games due to concussion.
    Right. That was with the Blues. I was talking about other teams.
    Question about Berube. Assuming he gets the gig full time, will he change up the coaches? He is already one short (his old position that was never filled). Right now he is working with Yeo’s team. I would venture the HC would get to choose his assistants. Any idea if he will fill the one current opening, and if he does get the job FT, who might stay and who would go, and who would he bring in?
    Earlier in this season, there were great concerns about Mike Van Ryn and the defense. There aren't any more. I would think the Blues would fill the opening on the staff created when Berube was promoted. Berube has been in charge of the power play the past two seasons; you know how well that has gone. (Think how this team would be playing if the power play was producing.) That would seem to be an area worth exploring. Early in the season, the power play did well, so the talent is there for it.
    no pumping the breaks! full steam ahead!
  • Pumping the brakes is always a good idea. Remember earlier in the season when the idea was to trade everyone and call up half of San Antonio's roster? Pumping the brakes worked then. At the same time, don't let me get in the way of your enjoyment. The Blues have just won 11 in a row. This is something we've never seen them do in 50-plus seasons. You've earned it.
  • Has ROR earned the C? His play seems to suggest he's a leader in the lockerroom.
    We were watching O'Reilly lead drills for Sanford, Fabbri, MacEachern and Thomas at the end of practice today. The coaches had left the ice, formal drills were over, players were free to go and get changed, and there they were, working on passing the puck from one side of the goal to other, through a teammate's legs. O'Reilly is a natural leader and a team's leadership group often goes beyond the guy with the C and the other guys with the A's. O'Reilly is going to be doing that regardless of whether he's wearing  a letter.
    Tim, is it just me or is the Blues home and away schedule odd? Phoenix, Colorado, Minnesota then home for a game then back on the road again in Dallas, home for a game and then fly back AGAIN to Minnesota a week after we played them there. I wish they would allow the team to have home and away stands.
    I do too. Much of it is determined by building availability. Enterprise has to book other events in it if it's going to make it. Forty-one Blues games are not enough. And that problem exists for every team in the league. (Though East Coast teams have it much easier because so many games are such short trips.) At least these one-game trips are to Central Division teams with relatively short flights. The consecutive Sunday games in Minnesota is weird.
    How long do you think it will be before concussion issues blow up in the NHL like they did in the NFL? How big of an issue is that going to be and what will the likely fallout be? Honestly, my biggest fear isn't that we don't get Perron back, but that we get him back and he suffers real permanent damage to his brain. That's terrifying.
    Concussions are going to be an issue everywhere and the NHL can't avoid it. The league has taken steps with its concussion protocol, requiring players to be checked out during games in cases of hits that have left players shaken up, and even in cases where they weren't shaken up. The league can do more, and lawsuits like the NFL has gotten are inevitable.
    Duclair or Burakovsky as potential targets, maybe? I’ve seen some speculation about Faulk, but can’t imagine adding another dman without moving one.
    There are a lot of trade questions out there, and I'll give one omnibus answer to all of them: if the Blues make a move, it will likely be for a rental, because the cost for someone with term left on his contract would be really high. With the way the Blues are playing right now, taking someone out of the team's core -- which right now is almost everyone -- would potentially do more harm than good. The Blues don't want to trade their best prospects, though there is I think some wiggle room in there in how you define prospects. Is Sammy Blais or Jordan Schmaltz still a prospect? I think both could be included in trades if someone wanted them. Also, the Blues don't have a first-round pick next season, so they don't have that to offer, and their second round pick is looking more and more like it would be late in that round. So that's not a great commodity. 
     
    If there's a forward out there that a team wants to part with and would take a mid-round draft pick and a prospect who's not one of the Blues' best, then that player could be had.
     
    We also still don't have a firm idea of who's buying and who's selling. Columbus and Carolina are both potential playoff teams. What are they going to do? 
     
    The picture will no doubt be clearer by Friday, when Jeff Gordon will certainly wade in on this in his chat. 
    Why are the Panthers still in Florida, Coyotes still in Arizona and the Hurricanes in North Carolina? It seems like other cities like Quebec City would do anything to have one of these teams instead of the markets they currently reside in. For the Blues game at the Panthers tickets were going for $65 up against the Glass on Stubhub and there were rows of empty seats at the arena for the game in the lower bowl.
  • The league's Southern expansion has certainly had some issues. Those markets are, in general, up and coming markets, places that are going to grow, so the league doesn't want to bail on them. And there are only so many cities, such as Quebec City and Houston, that are attractive to move to. Florida and Arizona both have location problems; the arenas are outside of town, which make it hard to get to, so unless the team is really compelling, it's not worth the trouble, especially in markets that don't have a fan base that grew up with the game.
  • Before ROR arrived, was anyone on this team serving as a leader in the same capacity that you described, or is that an intangible that he brings to the team that may have been missing?
    Before ROR, no one was staying after practice running drills with youngsters, but O'Reilly is pretty much alone in the league in doing that. It wasn't just something the Blues lacked, it was something basically every team in the league lacked. It's interesting to note that in general, the players who stay out and work with O'Reilly are youngsters, though Perron, who was on a line with O'Reilly back then, would stay out there as well.
    Tom, the one criticism that seems to be overlooked with this Blues team is last night the Blues had 3 consecutive power plays to put the game away. I feel like the tempo is improving but is it unrealistic to go find a solid offensive-minded defenseman like a Marcus Johansson at the deadline? Alec Martinez is an intriguing option for this team, one aspect I worry about when going head to head with Nashville it that it seemed very clear that Arvidsson and Forsberg can push their way to the front of our net and outmuscle Pietrangelo each time. A Martinez could provide the strength we need to clear the front of the net & provide some leadership with winning cups.
    That the Blues have won 11 in a row with a power play that sometimes can't get out of its own way is something. It was evident last night: The Blues do a much better job of getting set up in the other team's zone at five on five rather than five on four. Taking a step to improve the power play would be good, but I don't know how well a new defenseman that would fit in with the rest of the defensive unit. The Blues already have defensemen who will go attack in Pietrangelo, Dunn and Parayko. Is four offensive-minded defensemen out of six too many?
    What are the top 3-5 arenas to catch a game at?
    You can't go wrong in Canada (though I can't speak for Ottawa, which I'm making my first trip to in a few weeks). You've got some passionate fan bases there and they do some impressive light shows. And Original Six teams come with a certain aura, even in new arenas. (And if you go to Toronto, you can visit the Hockey Hall of Fame.) It's probably more fun to go to Detroit when they have a good team. I'd avoid Columbus, unless you're a fan of getting your eardrums shattered by that infernal cannon. Nashville is a love-it or hate-it situation. Vegas puts on quite a show and, well, it's Las Vegas. The area immediately around Vegas' arena is one of the best and it's a lot of fun, unless you're a hockey purist who doesn't like those kind of things.
    What is strange about the Blues schedule was early on they had 3 weeks in which they didn't leave St. Louis. Flying in and out is impressive.
    The Blues tend to have more home games early because in March, they have to clear out for the Missouri Valley tournament and occasionally NCAA wrestling. NCAA wrestling means a long trip because they have to take the ice out.
  • On Toronto's 2nd goal, they reviewed it as a good goal despite a player poking the goalie with his stick. Are players allowed to poke the goalies with their sticks regardless of whether it interferes with the goalie and the puck?
    Definitions of goalie interference seem to vary widely, even in Toronto. I didn't see anything last night that made me feel that was a goal that should have been overturned. I think Berube was more likely looking to take a free timeout and, who knows, maybe you get lucky.
    Read somewhere earlier that the current point pace to make the playoffs is 96 pts for the East, and 82 for the West. There's always a few teams each year that fall off, but the amount of West teams that simultaneously imploded is impressive
    Hockeyviz.com right now projects 93 points will be needed in the East, 84 in the West. The fact that Chicago and Anaheim are both within reasonable distance of a playoff spot is amazing. Minnesota's fall should be keeping them out, but there's no obvious candidate to catch them. One of these teams has to get hot down the stretch, don't they? There's going to be a deserving team in the East that won't make the playoffs.
    OK, it's about time for me to get around to writing a story for tomorrow's paper. Last call for questions
    A few questions and a thought:
    what’s it like on the road as a reporter covering the team? Do you go to any meals with coaches or players or only when asked. Do you have a adult beverage or two with players/coaches. Or do you guys keep your distance? Why is Larry Pleau still on the staff and what is his role? My thought is coming into the season I thought it would take some time for this team to gel. Didn’t think it would take this long but it’s happening. Your thought on team finally gelling.
    No player or coach has ever invited me to a meal, though that puts them on par with pretty much everyone else in the world. I'm more likely to go out with members of the radio/TV crews and an occasional Blues staffer. I have run into coaches/staff in certain locations at times and shared an adult beverage. I think the last time was in Los Angeles last year. (Armstrong made fun of my sweater, if I recall.) But in general, we keep our distance. I feel awkward running into them outside of work situations. Larry Pleau is the team's senior advisor of amateur scouting, which no doubt allows him to stay involved with the game while not having any major responsibilities. 
     
    I thought the team would come together more quickly than it did. I think the Blues did too. Some struggles were inevitable at the start with so many new faces, but I don't think anyone thought it would be as bad as it was. That was one slow start. Amazingly, once they came together, they have played exceptionally well. I feel as though I was switched from one beat to another in the middle of the season.
    My biggest take away from last night was Binnington. Throughout this winning streak he really hasn't faced any adversity, until last night. My concern was that, yeah he's doing great, but how will he respond once things go south. Well last night he came up huge after those 2 goals by the leafs. Those were some big time saves to give his team a chance to win it in OT
  • He did make some big saves. I think the bigger test will come when he has the inevitable bad game. It's bound to happen. He's also bound to have more than one bad game in a row at some point and that's where the true test will come. Right now, unless he robs a liquor store, I think the Blues are sticking with him.
  • Boy Fabbri is a shell of his former self.. Time to move on? give him one more year?
    I sense that the Blues are willing to write this year off for Fabbri as a transitional year as he gets back into the game. Now, not playing much in a season may not be the best way to get back up to speed after missing most of two seasons with injuries, but it sounds like the Blues are feeling that a level of play below previous standards would not be unexpected for Fabbri this season, and the shoulder injury only compounded that. I would think they would re-sign him because other teams aren't likely to be interested and the Blues will look for more from him next season. He's a young player with a good deal of NHL experience relative to his age, so he's got that going for him. It looks like getting his confidence back on the ice is the issue. Berube today termed Fabbri's recent play in two games as "OK," but I think that OK was said in a positive way, not the way it sounds in those commercials.
    Marner, Boeser, Pont, Laine, M. Tkachuk, Aho, Rantanen, Trouba and Connor are all rfa’s after the season. Do you see any of these guys getting offer sheets? Not necessarily from the Blues but from any team. Depending on offer a team could lose anywhere from 1-4 first round picks. Yikes!
    There was an expectation that we may be seeing more offer sheets this year than in the past, when we pretty much saw none. It will be interesting to see if that happens. I think in most of those cases, their current team would be stupid to let that player get away. The Blues' lack of a first-round pick would preclude them from making an offer to anyone whose  AAV would be over about $4 million.
    OK, time for me to get going. The trade deadline is approaching but, as I've said before, I can't see the Blues going for anyone other than a low-cost rental forward. Jim, you'll be happy to know, should be back next week. If you can't get enough hockey, and if you're reading this, that probably is an accurate description, we'll have a podcast going up sometime tomorrow and Gordo will be chatting on Friday. (Last week, by the way, I was disappointed in the number of Cardinals questions he answered relative to the number of Blues questions.) Jim is in Dallas with the team for Thursday's game, and I'll be in St. Paul on Sunday. And if the Blues still haven't lost by then, well, that would be something. Take care.
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