Good afternoon, and I'm not Jim Thomas. I'm Tom Timmermann, but our schedules got scrambled because of travel issues -- I'm still in Phoenix at the moment because my flights home keep getting cancelled -- so Jim's doing the writing from St. Louis and I'm doing the chatting from Arizona. Will it be any different? Will anyone even notice? Let's find out.
It's 61 degrees, on it's way up to 63. I could be doing this out by the pool, but I'm not. Typical desert weather, cools off a lot when the sun goes down. Not to 0 of course.
You can certainly be happy with the top two. Parayko has been off his game, obviously because of the unspecified injury that's bothering him. He didn't practice again today and while he's still likely to play on Thursday, Berube, at least to me, sounded for the first time like they may need to give him some time off at some point. Was looking at some numbers today that had the Blues offense at 20% below the league average with Parayko on the ice, 7% below with him off the ice. Same on defense. Opponents are 7% below league average with Parayko on ice, but 23% below with him off the ice. That the Blues have done what they can with limited contributions from Parayko has said something. Replacing Pietrangelo I've often said was going to be a multi-player parlay, and so far Parayko stepping up, which I would have thought was one of the surer components, hasn't been there. What he's dealing with we don't know but it's having an impact on his game.
Thanks. I was in Glendale, but relocated to downtown because I was supposed to fly out early Tuesday. And here I sit. And New Mexican cuisine is excellent.
We do not, but he seems to be not as fast and not as strong on the puck. So it could be a lot of things.
I think Sanford has been the most enigmatic most of the time he's been here. When he gets his confidence going, he does great. When he doesn't, he doesn't. The team certainly sees a big upside to him and will give him a lot of chance and he's become a regular on the penalty kill and gets in on the power play when there's an opening. They like his hockey smarts. If he gets his game going, that's another key component to this team and a bonus.
We'll have a lot more to base our predictions on, but in most cases, it shouldn't be that different. While the Blues have played Arizona seven times, if they were to meet in the playoffs, that's more than two months away and this just-completed series will be ancient history. I suppose if one team went 8-0 against the other team, that would tell us something, but that's probably not going to happen. There won't be many mysteries out there. But the playoffs are the playoffs. They are their own world.
Dunn is the one-stop shopping move; dealing him would get them cap compliant all at once. (So would a Gunnarsson trade if someone was so inclined.) Unless the Blues find that one of the players who's hurt is going to be out for the season, they will just want a draft pick in return. So they will ask for a first round pick and be very happy to get one. I don't think they would be excited about anything below a second.
It's certainly an option, and he will be here at some point. The KHL regular season ends in a few weeks, and then it's the playoffs, so he could be done there in the middle of March. The playoffs go through the end of April if he was to play till the end. Right now, he's better off getting games there instead of taxi-squadding it here, and he'll probably have to go through an extensive quarantine/isolation when he gets back. The Blues will be keeping his fingers crossed in the meantime because the forward cupboard is getting awfully bare. The next call they have to make would be to Utica.
Scandella probably could have played Saturday or Monday if needed. He took pregame warmups on Saturday. And Krug is good to go. The thing we don't know about Parayko is if a couple games off would make any difference. If it was just a couple games and he was fine, they might well have done it by now because they are not getting prime Parayko. So it might be that they would have to shut him down for much longer, which they don't seem to want to do. Sounds like they're going to stick with him, figuring what they get from him is better than what they would get from the others.
I think in that light, it was way better for Arizona than for the Blues. They have a young team that doesn't have much playoff experience and played a seven-game series with the Blues and won. They're feeling pretty good about themselves. The irony is that Arizona is less likely to actually make the playoffs, so they might not be able to reap the benefits. After the series, the Coyotes were pretty pumped about taking four of seven from the Blues and compared it to a playoff series. The Blues did not share that feeling. I do think it gave the Blues a good measuring stick, how they did with the opponent being held constant. They got better as the series went on.
The power play units seem to have picked up some life with the new combinations, and they will likely stay this way for a while, other than changes regarding injuries. But changes are only a few games of not scoring away. If the Blues go three games in a row without a power play goal, there could be changes again. Though the Blues have had only two power plays in each of the past three games, so that timeline might be extended. The Blues have just two power play goals in the past seven games. That's not good, not with the talent they have.
Based on how I've spent the past two weeks, the Coyotes look pretty good to me. I would have said the Wild earlier, but we'll have to see how they come out of their shutdown and how long it takes them to get going. They could let a lot of points slip away if it takes them a while. After those 2, it's Anaheim LA and San Jose.
For a guy who doesn't score many goals, Bortuzzo shows the most potential, I think.
If they choose the option where they only protect three, they're keeping Krug, Parayko and Faulk. That would leave everyone else, including Dunn if he's still here, exposed. And the options that would allow them to protect more than three take too high a cost in terms of forwards. So barring a drastic change, I think that's what you've got.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are a crap shoot. Anything can happen. When you consider that there are 31 teams in the league, in a purely random world, there should be long gaps between wins and, as I once wrote, if when your time comes, your goalie is Roman Turek, you have to get back in line again. The big thing that made it happen that year was that the Blues had a Red Hot Goalie in Binnington and a pretty good team to go along with that. Nothing is more important than the goalie. The Blues were supposed to be good, struggled, and rode Binnington into finding their game and feeling good about themselves. They played really well, had most of the breaks go their way, and won it. Berube put them in the right frame of mind to put bad things, like the San Jose hand pass, behind them and just to dig out of the somnambulence they had at the end of the Yeo Era. It takes a lot of things, and the Blues got them.
No word on Bozak other than that he's still not skating. He's now been out so long that when he does start skating, it will take him a week or so to get back up to speed.
I'm sure the league is expecting a quality rivalry between Seattle and Vancouver. Easy driving distance between the two.