Chat Blues hockey with Jim Thomas at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Chat Blues hockey with Jim Thomas at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Get your questions ready and join in at 1 p.m. Wednesday for our weekly Blues chat.

    Hello everyone. Big news today for Doug Armstrong, being named GM of Team Canada for the 2022 Olympics. It's not for certain yet that NHL players will be in the Olympics, and it's certainly a sign that it's headed in that direction. It's also a feather in the cap for St. Louis. Without the success of the Blues, this probably doesn't happen.
    As for the Blues, they're going along great. We're about 1/5th of the way through this fast-moving season. With that, we'll take your questions.
    Another goal for Dunn last night. But he also failed to get over and lift Dvorak's stick on the Coyote's first goal. It's easy to see why Vince aggravates Chief, but there's no denying the skill he brings to the blue line. Trading Vince, even for a first round pick, would subtract substantial skill from this team. Jim, how likely are we to see Dunn traded during the season or is this a move Army would make after the season, but before the expansion draft?
    I think Dunn is one of those players who's more highly-regarded outside of St. Louis than within the market. There are a lot of teams that would covet a guy like him. Just surf the web for Vince Dunn trade and you'll see. For example, I got a call from a writer from Winnipeg that day (the day he was benched) saying the Jets were looking for a No. 4 defeseman. Armstrong is unpredictable in a lot of ways but if the club stays in contention throughout the season, I don't see the club attempting to trade him _ if they do _ until the end of the season. Keep in mind that Gunnarsson's contract is up after this season and I don't see the Blues re-signing him. And they could lose a defenseman in the expansion draft. So they're not quite as deep there as you think.
    Hi, Jim - and thanks for your time!

    If Faulk keeps playing the rest of the season the way he's played thus far - do you think the Blues would expose him in the expansion draft?
    If he continues playing like this, I don't  see how they can expose him. Here's a story I wrote from early November in which I had Faulk exposed. I'd obviously change that right now. . .

    Who's a Kraken? Projecting which Blues might be available in expansion draft

    STLtoday.comTeam can protect as many as 11 players when Seattle stocks its roster next offseason.
    Hi Jim. Hope you're doing well. It's nice to see you're able to travel with the team and continue to provide great coverage, all while being safe. The special teams for the Blues has done better lately, but still seems to be a blemish for the team. What are your thoughts on the PK and PP and how can the continue to improve?
    Thanks. First off, I'm grateful to management at the Post-Dispatch for continuing the commitment to travel to all games. There are other media outlets asking for you money who are not making that commitment. As for special teams, they had been trending up in recent games. But Tuesday they went 0-for-5 on the PP and 1-for-2 on the PK. So there's still work to be done here. I think the PP will get going; they seem to be moving the puck around better. The PK, in my opinion, needs to be more aggressive. Both in terms of denying entry into the zone and getting out on people once the other team enters the zone.
    Mr. Thomas,
    I don’t think Mike Hoffman is going to put up the goal totals he’s used to with the ice time and PP time he’s currently getting (or not getting, as it were) with the Blues. His 14:08 TOI per game is less than Sundqvist and Sanford are averaging. He’s down two to three minutes per game compared to what he was getting with FLA and OTT. What gives?
    Sanford and Sundqvist are getting time on the penalty kill; Hoffman does not. Granted, Hoffman plays on the power play, but he's on the second unit _ which doesn't get as much time _ and the Blues haven't been drawing many penalties. And Hoffman's on the third line. He'd be getting another minute or so if he was on the second line. In order to thrive under Berube, you've got to play defense and battle for pucks. I think Hoffman is learning this.
    Looks like Berube has hit on the right combos lately. I'm particularly happy with Mikkola. It seems like he belongs with Bortuzzo on the PK. Do you think this truth will hasten the Dunn departure?
    Like most coaches, Berube is hesitant to change lineups while the team's winning.. Mikkola certainly looks like a plus on the penalty kill, with that long reach of his. But I don't think that fact will necessarily hasten Dunn's departure. There are about 250 to 300 defensemen who play each year in the NHL. Over the last two seasons, only 16 D-men have scored more goals than Dunn. That's a valuable commodity to have, particularly without the goal-scoring of Pietrangelo from the blue line no longer around. If anything, Mikkola's play is keeping Bortuzzo and Gunnarsson out of the lineup.
    Hi JT. Thank you for doing these chats. What can you tell us about the Justin Faulk fan club known as "The Faulketeers"? Do you plan on being a member if he continues playing the way he has all year?
    I don't know much about this club, but would like to know more. They appear to be a loose conglomeration of Faulk fans around North America. But no, I don't plan to become a member. I will admire them from a safe distance instance.
    Is it true that Sam Bennett is available? Any chance the Blues could package Dunn, Sanford and DeLaRose (for salary help toward Taransenko) to get Bennett?
    Sportsnet reported a couple days ago that Bennett has not formally requested a trade. I'm not sure what he'd bring to the table that would be an upgrade for the Blues. He's averaged 12.6 goals a year over the past five seasons and is minus-58 over his career. I know plus-minus isn't an end-all/be-all, but when you're that far below sea level it probably means your defense could be questionable. I realize Sanford is off to a slow start this season, but he has more goals since the start of the '18-19 season than Bennett (25 to 21) and is plus-21 (to Bennett's minus-12) during that stretch.
    Plus Bennett's making $2.55 million this year, $1 million more than Sanford and about $700K more than Dunn. I think there are other ways to come up with the money to when Tarasenko's ready to come off the roster.
    Good afternoon, Jim.. Even with their struggles with special teams, a 7-2-1 record so far looks darn good. From your perspective, what appears to be the foremost problem with the anemic powerplay? If they can improve in this area, Vegas and Colorado beware.
    Entry seems to be the biggest issue. It seems that usually once they're in the zone, they maintain good possession although not always dangerous shots. I still thnk they'll come around as they work in new pieces. And they had been trending up recently until Tuesday's 0-for-5.
  • When Bortuzzo comes back who comes out? Better not be Niko. Sure won’t be the bash brothers Faulk and Krug. Dunn isn’t going anywhere either. Does Colt 55 need a break?
    It looks like Bortuzzo is ready to return. But I don't see Berube changing the lineup until the Blues lose a game or two. I'm not sure who comes out. As for Parayko, unless there's an injury issue there that needs some rest, you don't take him out. So by the process of elimination then, it could be Mikkola.
    Something is wrong with Colt 55. Do you sense he is nursing an injury? If not, is he taking too long of a shift and the miscues happen at the end of his shift? He isn’t taking slat shots, could he have an “upper body injury”?
    You know, he did miss some practice time earlier in the season for "maintenance." He didn't seem like he was skating as well as usual in the first week or so. Didn't see many _ or any _ of those patented end-to-end rushes. The last time we talked to him _ on the last trip _ he said he was fine. His issues the past couple of games are puck management and exit passes in his own zone. Those to me would seem to be more of a judgement thing rather than an injury related. So I don't know.
    Good to see Hoffman light the lamp last night. He seems to be one of those guys, like Hull and Gretzy for example, when you give him an opening he makes you pay. I would like to see someone like Blais on his line, a guy that can hit and make room for his mates,
    Yeah, like most scorers, maybe Hoffman is the streaky type. And maybe this will get him going on a good streak. Funny you should mention Blais. A couple of us were mentioning in the press box last night at Enterprise that Blais' play could make it tougher for Bozak to get back in the lineup when he's healthy.
    Happy Wednesday Jim, thanks for the chats.

    I am concerned the Blues recently seem to not be ready for the first periods of games. Fortunately we have played mediocre teams during the four game win streak, the 5-4 shoot-out win versus Vegas could have gone either way. Teams like the Aves and Vegas will bury us in the first period if we do this against them, we will see what happens Saturday afternoon versus the Aves. Do you think what we are seeing is with the Blues have four lines that can score this becomes too much for the opposition as the game goes along? Or are they just not prepared for what comes at them like what happened last night versus the desert dogs? Chief shouldn’t have to become “Johnny F-Bomb” to get them going.
    As Tony La Russa used to say, they're men not robots. So they're not always going to be at their best night in, night out. I thought they might be a little sluggish Tuesday after the trip out west. They didn't get back to St. Louis until after 2 a.m. Monday after a back-to-back, and then had to play the next day. But Hoffman's goal seemed to get them going and they certainly didn't seem sluggish in the second period and much of the third. But your overall point is well taken. They started very slow Sunday in Anaheim, and only the work of Ville "The Kid" in goal kept them in that game early.
    Thank goodness for Jordon Binnington's stout play and timely saves. A hot goaltender will always be the most important component of winning hockey and despite his lackluster GAA he (along w Husso's one good start) is the main reason for the Blues hot start. The 5-5 play and line combinations look very solid and the defensive play and PK are improving w tweaks from the coaching staff. The PP is another story. Despite recent limited success it is a glaring weakness and will surely hurt the teams chances of continued winning unless either the goalies continue to stand on their heads or changes are made. The first unit is easy to read- either a Krug shot from up top or a Perron one-timer from the left wing. With limited time the second is a hodge pod w Dunn creating primarily looking for Hoffman. The 2nd unit is scary with the only defenseman Dunn also being the teams weakest joined by forwards who have not shown very good defensive responsibilities. The goalies are left on an island when the other teams PK breaks out and especially when the penalty ends. Besides not scoring on the PP short-handed goals are coming to haunt the team unless changes are made. Fortunately there are easy solutions if the new coach is nudged into making them instead of doing the same unsuccessful thing over and over(isn't that the definition of insanity). Faulk is playing amazing, a proven star on the PP and has shown great chemistry w Krug lately. O''Reilly is a no-brainer. Perron and Hoffman have great one-timers. Petro's leaving left open a natural door for Paranko to continue evolving into one of the best overall defenseman in hockey. His skill set cries to be on the PP plus his defense would cover up the inadequacy of Dunn and end of PP time. The second unit could easily consist of the Schwartz,Schenn, Kyrou line who have been dynamite. Less could be more. Two defensemen on each unit w basically intact lines, shots from the point...simplify. It ain't rocket science. The Blues have all the ingredients. Please use them!!!
  • Binnington has "stolen" three points this season _ from the shootout loss to San Jose and the shootout win in Vegas. And three points could mean a lot by season's end in terms of playoff positioning. As for 2 defensemen on each power play unit, I don't see that happening. (Although in theory, you could have Krug and Faulk on one and Dunn and Parayko on the other.) But that would mean you'd have to remove some talented forwards from the units. As I mentioned in a couple of earlier answers, the PP was showing improvement until Tuesday night. Also, the Blues need to draw more penalties.
    Otherewise, I'll let your comments stand. You obviously put some thought into it.
    Faulk has been as spectacular this season as the goal he scored last night for the Blues. Most figured Justin would get more comfortable playing with the Blues now that he has a season under his belt, but the way he's transformed his game defensively has been a pleasant surprise. Jim, what do you think has been the key difference in Faulk's game this season vs. last and do you think the level he's playing at right now is sustainable or just an early stretch of positive play?
    I think the main thing is confidence. Also, Faulk has a more defined role this year.. But it was interesting to see him get in that fight with Stone (a response, of course to the hit on Bozak). Because Faulk isn't really a fighter. He's had six in his career. And he's also been either the team leader or shared the team lead in hits in the majority of games this season. Again, Faulk wasn't really known as a physical player. So in a sense, I guess you could say his game is evolving. I also think, not having to play in the shadow of Petro helps. Again, it was easy enough to assume last year when the trade happened that it was a response to lack of progress in the Petro negotiations. We'll see if he can keep it uip.
    A real "fan boy" question for you. Do you see a path for ROR to the hockey HOF?

    Have the Blues considered a team HOF similar to the Cardinals'?
    I'm far from the expert on the Hockey Hall of Fame, but for all the other things O'Reilly does, will he score enough goals over his career to merit serious consideration. At age 29, he turns 30 on Sunday, he has 197 career goals.
    As for a Blues HOF, I'm not aware of any such plans. I should ask about it, eh?
    Happy Wednesday Jim, thanks for the chats.

    I am concerned the Blues recently seem to not be ready for the first periods of games. Fortunately we have played mediocre teams during the four game win streak, the 5-4 shoot-out win versus Vegas could have gone either way. Teams like the Aves and Vegas will bury us in the first period if we do this against them, we will see what happens Saturday afternoon versus the Aves. Do you think what we are seeing is with the Blues have four lines that can score this becomes too much for the opposition as the game goes along? Or are they just not prepared for what comes at them like last night versus the desert dogs? Chief shouldn’t have to become “Johnny F-Bomb” to get them going.
    This question got posted twice. I've answered it below.
    That was a pretty Tarasenko-esque goal Hoffman scored last night on the rush, but there's still been many games where his presence hasn't really been that noticeable on the ice. Jim, where do you think Hoffman's game is at right now and do you see him starting to get more comfortable with his new teammates and Chief's system yet?
    I think he's starting to get there. But he's a scorer. That's what he does. And if he's not scoring goals, he's not doing his job. Hoffman talked last night about the adjustment process; he said he thinks he's making progress. But keep this in mind. He does a lot of damage on the power play, and he's been on the second unit most of the young season, which hasn't gotten nearly as much time on the ice so far as the first unit. So unless, he works his way back onto the first unit, his scoring totals may continue to be depressed.
    You like Petrangelo. I don't care for him anymore. You must like Benedict Arnold. And I predict Vegas will not make the finals they are now short on depth. Didn't know how good Theodore is Petro isn't even their best D man. Kyrou took him to the tool shed. I LMAO!!
  • Sounds like you took his departure personally.
  • What do you think of Krug so far? He's a nice player I expect the numbers to go up.
    He's been OK. Scrappy. Good skater. Over-passes once in a while. But noverall a good passer. Yeah, his numbers should go up as the power play improves.
    Mikkola has to be protected in the expansion draft.
Powered by Platform for Live Reporting, Events, and Social Engagement