Chat all things Blues with Tom Timmermann at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Chat all things Blues with Tom Timmermann at 1 p.m. Wednesday

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

    Greetings, and welcome to another installment of our weekly Blues chat. Having finally escaped the balmy clutches of Arizona -- honestly, I was trying to come home, though for the life of me, I don't know why -- this week's chat originates from St. Louis, rather than Phoenix. In any case, you probably have some questions. In fact, there are already some here. So let's get started.
    Hi, Tom. Happy Wednesday. I had someone compare the funk this team is in to the 18-19 season, when they went on the historic run after starting so poorly. This team just looks different, and not in a good way. Is that a fair assessment? I know there's been personnel changes, but they need to figure it out sooner in this shortened season. What do you think?
    The big difference between this and the 18-19 run is that team was, for the most part, healthy and not playing well. This team is not healthy and not playing well. Though that's relative. They're not playing well relative to their expectations, but they're still playing well enough to win a lot of nights. What's making it tough now is they don't have the manpower to do it. There is a big chunk of players missing and no team has the depth needed to overcome what the Blues have gone through. Pretty much by definition, depth players are third or fourth line guys. No one has a depth top-six forward. The Blues need to get some bodies back to turn this around.
    With Gunnarson now out for the year, am I correct in saying Army no longer has to make any moves to get cap compliant when Tarasenko returns? Do you think he makes any moves to bolster the back end?
    You are not correct. Gunnarsson being out does not entirely solve the problem. I sat down, figuratively, with the guy at capfriendly.com yesterday and went through the numbers. Gunnarsson gets the Blues close, but not all the way. The problem is that because of the injuries, there are guys on the roster who wouldn't otherwise be here. Subtract Mikkola, MacEachern and de la Rose and you get there. But to do that, the Blues have to get healthy guys back. So if the Blues get Parayko and Schwartz and Bozak back, then they sent other guys back to the taxi squad, they'll be OK. Now, if one of those guys lands on LTIR, that would buy them the space. And then if there are any more injuries, there's more problems. Right now, the injuries are not only messing up the on-ice product, but also the cap space. 
    So what that means is, no on moves to bolstering the back end. And if they had space, I think Mikkola is in a spot now where the Blues are prepared to play him. They can't keep jumping guys ahead of him. 
    Tarasenko...at his best...makes a huge difference on this team, right?
    At his best, yes. Will the Blues see him at his best this season? Seems unlikely. He's been out a long time and has a lot of catching up to do. And the specter of his shoulder will hang over him.
    Hi Tom, what's for lunch! And do you have a good read on Kostin's place with the organization? I've seen that he could come back after the KHL season wraps up (and with a quarantine), but I could also see him taking a Jaskin route and becoming a big dog in Russia. Thoughts?
    Peanut butter and jelly for lunch, with a York peppermint patty chaser.
    I don't know how good my read is, but the Blues have been high on Kostin and have worked on his development. They have invested a lot in him. They sent him to the KHL so he could play this season, with the intention to bring him back if needed. The KHL season has a week to go, then there's the playoffs -- his club Avangard Omsk is pretty high in the standings, so it could be a long run -- and then he'll be back. I would think he will need two weeks from when he gets back to when he can play (It's been almost a week for Nathan Walker in quarantine and he came from New York.) Kostin has expressed a desire to play in the NHL, and his chance is about to come. If he were here now, he would likely be in the lineup. But for legitimate reasons, the Blues decided it was best for him to play in the KHL, and he had to agree to go there. Has he gotten comfortable there? I don't know. Jaskin ended up there because the NHL had pretty much given up on him. I don't think the Blues or the NHL have given up on Kostin. If he wants to play in the NHL, his chances is about to come. Also, the injuries were unforeseen. If the Blues were healthy at forward, Kostin wouldn't be playing. 
    de la Rose looked very good on Monday. Does he ever get moved up from the fourth line?
  • Well, they don't have many more centers at the moment, so that could cause it to happen. Otherwise, probably not. Someone suggested at the morning skate today putting Sundqvist back with O'Reilly and Perron, but if you did that, who centers the third line? De la Rose's best fit is on the fourth line.
    Hi, Tom. I very much enjoy your coverage of the Blues. Is there any chance Jake Walman will get a chance to play some serious minutes? He is a puck mover and has improved defensively. Your thoughts?
    Walman is, for the time being, the seventh defenseman, and is likely to get some ice time somewhere along the way here, rather it's trading off with Mikkola or with Bortuzzo, or with someone else getting hurt, because that seems bound to happen. If he does get in in that situation, he will get not serious minutes, but more minutes than the token amounts he has gotten so far. The Blues have liked the progress he has made defensively. "He'll get an opportunity at some point," was what Berube told us yesterday.
    Dunn made a mistake & got benched a game. I know they’re short handed right now, but this wasn’t Sanford’s first 1st, 2nd or 3rd mistake of the season. Why does Berube love him so much?... or is it just that his ego is so fragile that he has to be coddled??
    Zach Sanford was a healthy scratch 11 times last season, so the team isn't afraid to do it. Right now, they can't, because they don't have the bodies. Sanford has the gift of potential and size and they like his hockey sense. Sanford has shown when he gets his act together, he can score goals. He was among the league leaders in scoring in the second half of last season. (A four-goal game will help that.) That's an upside they like and apparently are prepared to wait for. They have enough faith in his skills to use him on the power play and the penalty kill. He'll be on the second unit power play again tonight. In a normal season, he might well have been a healthy scratch by now. He probably would have had a seat after the second San Jose game, where he was a minus-9 in Corsi. Confidence plays a big part in Sanford's game. When he loses confidence, he thinks too much and his game suffers. Berube thought Sanford played better against Los Angeles on Monday -- his Corsi was minus-4 -- but again, right now, they can't take him out. The Blues like what a good Sanford can provide. But he's shown that can't always be depended on.
    With BoomBoom out for the season, can you update us on the salary cap situation when Taresenko returns. Also, does it seem like Dunn's defense is getting worse? I know Bartuzzo took the penalty which led to the first goal, but Dunn seems to have been responsible for at least 3 of the last 7 goals (and he's not always going up against the best guys). Thoughts on both? Thanks for the chat
    You can find the answer about the salary cap earlier in the chat. They're not out of the woods yet. 
    As for Dunn's defense, it seems to be hit or miss, and some of the misses have shown to be pretty costly. Athanasiou blew past him on the play that led to the penalty and the power play goal. Obviously, that's not the first time that has happened. And there was another goal in the last two games where Dunn didn't pick up an opponent near the net and an easy goal followed. Overall, his defense is actually pretty close stat wise to last season. Per hockeyviz.com, his defense held team's 3.4% below league average last season and he's at 2.9 below this season. So not quite as good, but pretty close. His offense, however, has gone from a positive to a negative impact on the team. In a world without Parayko, there's more chances for Dunn but so far he hasn't fully embraced them. 
    Tom, let's all say a collective prayer Binnington doesn't get injured. Without Binner this team will sink like a stone.
    I always like to point out that when the Blues called up Binnington two seasons ago, they kept him on the bench for, I think, 14 straight games while playing Jake Allen every night. That's how much confidence they had in Binnington. Now, I don't know that you can expect two goalie miracles for one franchise three years apart. Husso, so far, hasn't had a lot of things go his way and the fact that he's had four occasions where he's allowed a goal on one of the first three shots is one of the most amazing things I've seen, even if some haven't been his fault. 
    Still, an injury to Binnington would probably not be a good path forward for the Blues. 
    Mr. Timmermann,
    In his story today, Jim Thomas covered the reasons why “Boom Boom” Gunnarsson has likely played his last game for the Blues. What a shame for it to end that way, if it does. I have always liked Gunnarsson. In your opinion, is there even a small chance the Blues would bring him back next year as a veteran seventh d-man, or has the ship sailed?
  • Sad to say, it's hard to see a way Gunnarsson comes back. Even if Dunn ends up somewhere else, with Mikkola and Walman and Perunovich, there are defenseman waiting to get ice time. Gunnarsson will be 35 next season and coming off what's likely a significant knee operation. He's not only unlikely to be with the Blues, but unlikely to be elsewhere in the NHL.
    Carl has always been one of my favorite guys in the room to talk to. I was doing a story a few years back on the disagreement in hockey over whether the A on a uniform stands for Alternate or Assistant. (The rule book says it's Alternate, but almost every one refers to them as Assistants.) I was talking to Carl about this and he was saying he thinks it should be Assistant, and I told him, well the rule book says Alternate, and he loudly shouted "F--- the NHL!" 
  • As a David Backes loyalist and his career getting closer to the end, do you foresee and sort of Blues reunion or recognition for all he did to lead the Blues to constant contention over the past decade? If not, Could you put a good word in to upper management on this? Haha thanks
    If you think he should get his number retired, that seems unlikely to happen. If he's back, they'll acknowledge him, and if he were to settle in St. Louis after he's done, who knows what might happen. But I don't see much happening beyond that.
    Upper management has shown little interest in my suggestions for the most part.
    It seems the Blues are slow at everything, making passes, dusting off the puck before shooting, situational decision making. We need a blowout win tonight to change the team's psychology. Agree?
    Any win would be welcome. I've always thought that rather than a blowout win, a game where you something fluky happens that goes your way is better for turning things around, because you start to think that maybe the fates are starting to smile on you. A game like the one against San Jose, where they turned a loss into a win in the final 40 seconds would have seemed to me to be another springboard, but it turns out that wasn't. The problem with blowouts is once you get past 4-0, it's a lot of skating around and both teams lose their form. A tight game does a better job of getting you to focus on what needs to be done.
    But yes, the Blues are slow on everything. The game does not seem instinctual at the moment. 
    While the Blues have in theory a "easier" schedule with all the California teams and might be able to nab a few extra points with all the injuries. The flip side of that coin is there will be a lot of COL/MIN/VGK to finish out the season. Is it fair to assume if the Blues don't make it out of this Cali stretch with a respectable record, they may be on the outside looking in come playoffs?
    In a follow up to the comment about Binnington getting hurt, it still makes me wonder why the Blues have Hofer on the taxi squad. I think I mentioned this before how I'm surprised he hasn't been sent down so he can play. If a goalie gets hurt, is Hofer ready to be called upon to appear in a game? I would think not at the moment.
    Hofer is here because there's nowhere else for him to go and they want the No. 3 goalie in the organization, Jon Gillies, to be getting games in Utica in case he's needed with the big club. Evan Fitzpatrick, the other young goalie in the system, is in Utica and hasn't gotten in a game yet. This way Hofer gets to work with coaches and, as today at the morning skate, come out and face NHL shots. There is no evidence that he is ready to be called on because he hasn't played anywhere this season, and the only way he would be called on is if Binnington and Husso got hurt and Gillies couldn't get here quickly.
    Do you attribute the number of injuries to a shortened training camp without exhibition games or just dumb luck?
  • Dumb luck for the most part. Thomas got knocked over and landed on his hand. Bozak took a shoulder to the head and fell to the ice. Barbashev took a puck to the ankle. We're still vague on what exactly happened to Parayko or Schwartz -- Parayko's injury first showed up at a practice, and Schwartz left late in a game -- but it's otherwise been stuff that has been in the line of duty.
  • What gives with the Powerplay????
    How would you fix our powerplay?

    I think we need more from Perron, schenn and Hoffman. The puck seems to move so slow and the other team seems to beat us to spots making every time we touch the puck a battle...
    our powerplay is in the worst shape I can remember in the last 5-6 years!
    The Blues are fast running out of options on the power play. There aren't a lot of combinations that haven't been used. Getting some bodies back, Tarasenko, Bozak, Schwartz, would certainly help. Being more active seems to be what's missing. Getting the defenseman cranking shots and putting the puck in the mixer in front of the net would be a start. Just being more aggressive would help things. They're getting back to that mode of passing the puck around the perimeter for a long time, waiting for the right chance, which doesn't seem to come.
  • TT: Now that the dust has more than settled and there has been plenty of time to sift through all that was said, do you think there was anything Armstrong and management could have done differently to keep AP? It seems like they made a lot of concessions, which is why AP's decision to leave was such a head scratcher. I keep wondering if AP just wanted out, and if so, why, or if he thought turning down that final offer would lead to another counter offer and was caught surprised when Armstrong turned so quickly to Krug and got him signed.
    If Pietrangelo wanted a no-movement clause and the Blues didn't want to give him one, that was a gap that was going to be hard to bridge. Ultimately, Pietrangelo got a pretty sweet deal from Vegas, with all the money he would have gotten here and the security he wanted. Plus, he got a lot of money in the form of a signing bonus which makes him hard to buyout. I don't think Pietrangelo wanted out, not from the times I've talked to him, and this is how negotiations go sometimes: You draw a line and say, If I don't get this I'm not coming back, and if the other side says, Sorry, you're not getting that, then, well, either you have to change your stance or you sign somewhere else. I think Pietrangelo was a bit surprised that Armstrong moved so quickly to sign Krug -- I was surprised -- and he would have liked to have the Blues still out there if only for negotiating leverage with Vegas. Each side just wanted something they weren't prepared to budge on.
    Do we need to change who coaches the power play? Prior to the beginning of the season everyone thought the power play would be our strong suit and JIm Montgomery would look like a genius given the talent he has to work with. Like Rocoberto wrote the passes and decision making are too slow. I would think Montgomery would at some point change things up.
    The Blues describe their coaching staff as a collaborative effort. Montgomery may be in charge of the power play, but at a recent practice, it was Steve Ott who was there talking to the unit and explaining what they would try to do. So all voices are welcome. And it's not as if Berube put Montgomery in charge of the power play and walked away from it. Everyone chips in on the suggestions and right now, it would seem that any or all ideas will be listened to. And it's not as if there are all that many different power play approaches. A lot comes down to how you execute, rather than what you execute.
    Can you explain why when a player breaks their stick in the defensive zone they don't immediately go to the bench and get a new stick. I understand they should try to kick the puck, or if they can they should immediately check the player with the puck. But if they can't do one of those 2 things, it's like giving the other team a 5 to 4.2 man advantage. (I say a player without a stick is only 20% as good as a player with stick.)
    Much depends on where and when it happens. In the second period, with the long change, it could leave the other team with a power play for 10 seconds or so. So at that point, the feeling is having that extra body there is better than having no body there at all. In the first and third periods, with the shorter change, it's easier to get to the bench for a new stick, depending, of course, on which side of the ice  you're on. I asked Ken Hitchcock about this once, and he said that when the player with the puck turns away from the goal, facing the boards or center ice, that's when you race to the bench for a new stick. If the other team is applying pressure on the goal, sometimes it's just hard to find a safe moment to get away.
    Hello from Ottawa. Was wondering what the timeline on Tarasenko returning is? Need to hear it from people who are near!
  • Still no clear cut answer on this. He's more regularly skating with the team in practices, but is only really doing skating and shooting drills. I'd say two or three weeks because he still hasn't started doing any contact work. But that's just a guess.
  • Any idea of how Scott Perunovich got injured?
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