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.




    Greetings and welcome to another chat. We're past the trade deadline, so the stretch run I guess you can say has now begun. I'm sure there will be questions on it, but Perron and Schenn skated in practice today, though Berube didn't say either was in on Friday. We'll probably get back to that later. And off we go ...
    Is Binnington's interview style -- whereby he gives 1- to 3-word answers to some well-thought-out questions -- just a schtick? Or is he really that quiet and thinks that "Cool." is a sufficient answer?
    That's Binnington's style. He's droll, wry, a bit sarcastic. So to that extent, it's a bit of a schtick. But it's his schtick. I've probably told this story before, but after he played his first game with the Blues, I asked him if he had kept anything as a souvenir of the game. He said, Yes, he scraped up some snow from around the crease to keep. Really? I said. Of course not, was his replay. I now know that to be fairly typical of Binnington. He does give longer answers, but if he's got a chance for a zinger, he will zing.
    I thought last night was the Blues best 60 minutes of the year. Was it because the Preds were tired from back-to-backs, or were we really that strong?
  • That was one of the most dominant performances for the Blues this season, but they've had other games like that against very good teams, so you can't pin it all on the Predators playing back to backs. And the Blues have played some teams that have been on the back end of back-to-backs and not done that well. The first shift set the tone for the game (including the fact that they almost scored but didn't). I'd say the Blues were really that strong last night.
  • "Army" is being praised in most quarters for having had the courage to stand pat at the trade deadline. What say ye? Thumbs up or down on this strategy, and why.
    I think standing pat was the best plan, as advertised in this chat the past couple weeks. Going after a high profile player would have required taking someone off the current 23-man roster, which potentially would adversely affect a team that has become a well-oiled machine. Also, the lack of a first-round draft pick this year would have made that tough, as well as limited space under the salary cap (I don't think they could have fit anyone making more than $4 million a year without removing some salary) and an organizational philosophy not to trade top prospects. Add that all up, and it was tough to make a deal anyway. And as Armstrong said yesterday, the Blues see this season as the beginning of a window of opportunity, which made standing pat a better choice. Had this been the end of a window, he'd have been more inclined to go all in. So I give it a thumbs up.
    Jeff Gordon says that the way a team wins the Stanley Cup is by finding a way to improve every round through the playoffs. Besides the power play, where do the Blues find room for improvement? They seem to hitting on all cylinders right now. I saw Pietrangelo make a loose pass last night and maybe Parayko did too but other than that . . . ? Does this mean if they just continue to play they way they are right now they have a good shot at it, power play notwithstanding?
    The power play needs to be better. Everyone agrees on that, from Armstrong on down. The Blues have in the past month beaten Nashville three times, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Boston, so they have shown they can play with anybody. (They also beat Columbus, though that team looks a lot different now.) As Berube cautioned yesterday, the playoffs are a different animal. So they have to get better all around, in every aspect. They need to get more consistent balanced scoring. They need to cut down on mistakes in their own end. There aren't many parts of their game that currently rate a 5, but the ones that may be at an 8 or 9 have to be upgraded.
    Binnington currently has a 1.61 GAA (1st if qualified), a .936 SV% (1st if qualified) and 5 Shutouts (1 behind leaders) in 18 games started. If he starts 14 of the remaining 19 (5 back-to-backs) and maintains his rate stats with another shutout or two, could he enter discussions for the Vezina? Or is that not enough games for consideration?
    The Vezina will be tough because he won't have played anywhere near as many games as other goalies, and right now, it will be an interesting race between him and Carter Hart of Philadelphia for the goalie spot on the all-rookie team. Hart may have an edge at the moment being on the East Coast amid much more of a media spotlight. One thing we were talking about yesterday is, could Binnington enter the Calder race for rookie of the year? Elias Pettersson of Vancouver has been considered the runaway choice for that all season, but if Binnington almost single-handedly puts the Blues in the playoff picture and high in the Western Conference standings, he could get some votes. But it's often tough to break a narrative; voters to some extent may have already settled on Pettersson in their minds. Now, if Binnington gets another three or four of five shutouts the rest of the way, that could change things. He's one off the league lead right now, despite having played 20 or 30 games less than the goalies ahead of him.
    When Perron and Schenn return to the lineup, who sits?
    Sanford and Fabbri, most likely, though Fabbri's game has really come on strong the past few games. And Blais will come out when Steen returns. That was one of the amazing things about last night. The Blues won that game without Schenn, Perron and Steen in the lineup. Those three, by the way, skated as a fifth line in practice today. Perron looks pretty close to being ready to return; Schenn seemed to be taking it a little more lightly.
  • I thought I read somewhere that if Binnington doesn’t play a set amount of games before the end of the regular season he can become an unrestricted free agent. Is that true and if so how many games does he need to play before the end of the regular season? Should we be looking at inking him to an extension now?
    Binnington needs to play at least 30 minutes in 28 games this season or he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Right now he's at 18, so he's got to play 10 more. He is the starting goalie now, so getting 10 games out of the last 19 seems pretty likely as long as he doesn't get hurt. If he does play those games, he becomes a restricted free agent who is arbitration eligible. It is, as Armstrong said yesterday, a great Cinderella story. A two-year extension would seem a likely move after this season. Despite how this season has gone, I think the Blues still need to see some proof. Andrew Hammond, for instance, had a great start to his NHL career and is now in Minnesota's farm system. The more Binnington plays, the more opposing teams will know about him and how best to attack him.
    Realistically does Binnington have a shot at Vezina? Calder?
    I think he has a better shot at the Calder than the Vezina. But I don't know that he's a lock for the goalie spot on the all-rookie team yet because of the attention Carter Hart has gotten in Philadelphia. If the Blues make the playoffs and the Flyers don't, that will help that cause.
    When did the NHL say it was ok to punch the back of the head of an opposing player. Subban did this three times in the first 10 minutes of the game last night and not one penalty was called. And the constant whining to the officials by Subban, Josi and Johansen is ridiculous.
    I don't believe there was a memo on that, but referees miss things.
    Any foresight into how this lineup looks over the course of the final month? I assume MDZ has to get in a game at some point to show us if he's capable of fitting in and executing the defensive game plan. And when Schenn and DP57 get back what do you do with Fabbri who has been more and more effective every game, Sanford who is effective no matter what center you put him with and Macheacern who was given a contract to stay and makes the most happen in limited minutes? Good problems to have....
  • I would think they put Del Zotto in a game at some point, probably sooner rather than later, just to have him get in the flow of things. But unless someone gets hurt or royally messes up, I don't think you'll see him much, and you'll see him even less when Gunnarsson gets back, though who knows when that will be. Fabbri could be headed back to the press box as soon as this weekend, though I'm sure Berube will try to slip him and Sanford and whoever else may be sitting idle in from time to time. I think the lineup from the 11-game win streak, but with Perron instead of Sanford, is how this team will look most of the rest of the way.
    Chris Thorburn is toiling in San Antonio - any change the Blues bring him up for the playoffs? The playoffs are going to be tough, and our boys need a guy to keep the other guys honest. I assume the only ways he comes to St. Louis is due to injuries or he buys a ticket. Your thoughts?
    by Barry - Happy Blues Fan in Orlando FL 2/27/2019 7:42:10 PM
    I think the organization likes having Thorburn around. He's a great guy in the room, as they say. So I think he would be one of the callups if the Blues are playing after San Antonio's season has ended. As to whether he would get in a game, that would take a whole batch of injuries because there would be four or five players on the runway ahead of him. And even when Thorburn was here, he didn't play many minutes, which is less of an option in a playoff game.
    Watching Fabbri the last couple of games I think he’s skating like his old self. Playing good D (saved a goal in Minny). Your thoughts?
  • He's looking stronger and more confident out there and as fast as he used to be. He said after the Minnesota game that he was glad to see he was getting chances. When he doesn't get chances is when he's concerned. There still may not be room for him to play when the team is at full strength, but it provides optimism that he can step in if needed and can be expected to contribute next season.
    Wow, last night's game was fun. The Blue's future is exciting. We are watching Thomas continue to grow each and every game. Parayko is growing into elite status and O'Reilly and Tarasenko are already there. What do you think the Blue's will do to fill in the D next year? Bring up kids or re-sign Bouwmeester now that he is playing fully healthy?
    Bouwmeester would have to take a significant pay cut to come back. With the money the Blues are going to have to be spending soon on UFAs, and if they think players like Reinke, Walman or Mikkola are ready, they will turn to them. (And Jordan Schmaltz is still in the picture.) Bouwmeester may attract some attention from other places next year who may have more money to offer, or more years. If the Blues gave Bouwmeester more than one year, it would just force them to keep the guys currently in the minors there longer.
    I am trying to be optimistic yet pragmatic in regards to this Blues team. Do you think they can sneak past the Jets and Preds in standings? Is 1st a legitimate option or are we just being spoiled to think that?
    Catching Nashville certainly seems do-able. The Blues are five points back with three more games to play and, while I haven't studied Nashville's schedule, the Blues' schedule is relatively easy down the stretch, with lots of teams that are out of playoffs spots. (Though, to get you a headstart on hockey cliches, those teams are tough because those guys are playing for their jobs.) Winnipeg is tougher to catch because the teams are even on games, but the Jets hit a downturn for a while and if they do that again, the Blues could be poised to make a move. Though to be pragmatic, it will be tough for the Blues to keep rolling up points at the rate they are. Right now, hockeyviz.com projects Winnipeg at 98.5 points, Nashville at 97 and the Blues at 95.3. So the Blues are definitely in the picture.
    What do you think about the recent St. Louis talk about ROR being a Selke candidate? I've read some national articles, don't see his name mentioned - but will there now be a media push with the Blues being a probable playoff team?
    The Selke is the toughest award to vote on. It gives me more trouble every year than any other award. So an ad campaign can't hurt, but voters tend to look at last year's winners and start there and those national articles are where a lot of people start when making up their ballot. It's hard to come out of nowhere to win the Selke. Being a playoff team certainly helps, if only because you're not voting for someone for that award who plays for Ottawa.
    Do you see this finally being the year that they move on from the plans of Allen as the goalie of the future? Has Binnington done enough in their eyes to become our top priority in net? What would that mean for Allen? Do we try to part ways with him, give him a fresh start with a new team, and sign a veteran backup in the offseason to help with the bumps along the road that we may experience with Jordan? I know in the past we have stuck with Allen, twice, despite him getting outplayed and relegated to the backup, but I don't think that we can afford to do that this time. I know it's only a small sample, but we seem to finally have a young goaltender capable of giving this team what they haven't had since Fuhr.
    I can't see the Blues handing over the keys to Binnington next season, making him the No. 1 and signing a career backup ala Carter Hutton. Even with the rest of this season and a long playoff run, that may not be enough to sell them on him. I could see Binnington and Allen in a 1A and 1B situation next season, and whoever plays better gets more of the time. The goalie position is erratic and goalies routinely go from great one year to not so great the next year. One thing that Binnington's rise does is probably make Ville Husso expendable, or at least a potential trade chip. Because another thing I can't see is the Blues going with Binnington and Husso next season.
    Looking like a good possibility Schenn and Perron will get back on the ice this weekend. What do you think the forward lines look like once both are back in?
    Well, for starters I'd put Schenn back with O'Reilly and Tarasenko because they haven't been as effective since Schwartz has joined them. My original thought was that they would go back to Thomas as a center, but that doesn't seem to be something they're considering now. So Schwartz and Perron would end up on a second line with Bozak. Then what have you got? Maroon, Sundqvist and Steen on the third line and MacEachern, Barbashev and Thomas on the fourth line. The fourth line has been one of their most effective so far.
    Del Zotto wearing 42. Doesn’t bother me but I’m surprised the Blues would give their approval. I’m sure part of the fan base is worked into a lather.
    When I tweeted out yesterday that Del Zotto would wear 42, I was amazed by the response in the Twitterverse, and I'm hard to amaze. Some saw it as a sacrilege. Others were fine with it. (Many of those thought Backes forfeited his rights to that number when he left as a free agent.) I don't think the Blues are ever going to retire 42 in Backes' honor, so the sooner they get it back into circulation, the easier it probably is treat it like any other number. Let it sit idle too long and it gets harder to do that. I'm also amazed that the Blues gave out Pronger's 44 after he left, though they haven't done it in the past seven seasons.
    Tom, I know folks were clamoring for the Blues to make some moves at the trade deadline but if you look at it closely, because of bad contracts, lack of draft picks and the salary cap the Blues really couldn’t do much. The time to build a team is in July & August. I thought the first 4-5 wins, we were looking at fool’s gold but with the way they played last night, and if they continue to play that way, they could actually make it past the second round. What can the Blues do in the off season to build up their draft picks again, or is that even anything to be concerned with?
    The only way to get high draft picks back will be to trade players of value. I was walking over to the rink with Chris Kerber on Sunday and he pointed out that the last time the Blues drafted a forward in the top 10 was Rod Brind'Amour in 1988. So with the Blues consistently drafting in the middle to late first round, they've done pretty well.
    Who's on the roster this year that will most likely not be on the roster next year?
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